All cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute share the expectation that they deliver the world’s best available care to their patients and their communities. But we each also look for areas that make our centers unique. In this edition of Synthesis, we touch on three special features of UC Davis.
First, the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine, one of the best in America and the leader in research funded by the National Institutes of Health, makes our work on cancer distinctive. The goal of its veterinary oncologists is to prevent and cure cancer in their animal patients. The goal of the UC Davis Cancer Center is to do the same for our human patients. The question we are asking is, "How can we work together to help all of our patients?" A major step in this direction was the joint recruitment of Xinbin Chen by the veterinary school and the medical school to lead a collaborative effort in cancer research called "comparative oncology." I believe once you have read about him, you will understand what a wonderful choice we have made.
The second unique characteristic of our cancer center is its integration with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Among other activities, researchers from both institutions collaborate on the Sacramento campus at the Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology. In this issue, you will read about one result of this partnership: the development of a laser Raman cystoscope to improve treatment of children with leukemia. A key figure on the team is Douglas Taylor, the pediatric oncologist leading the clinical portion of the project. In a previous Synthesis we introduced you to Thomas Huser, a Lawrence Livermore physicist on this project who has recently joined the UC Davis faculty.
Our cancer center’s third special feature is its proximity to and relationship with the California Department of Health Services in Sacramento, and especially its California Cancer Registry. The registry is considered one of the finest of its kind in the world because of its 20-year collection of records and its extraordinarily high level of data integrity. Rosemary Cress, who heads up the registry’s research programs, will tell you that the partnership with oncologists at the UC Davis Cancer Center is yielding new clues about cancers that burden women.
We are also pleased to bring you the stories of two patients. Norman deLeuze was an engineer-turned-winemaker determined to help researchers find a non-toxic cure for lymphoma. He and his family set up an endowment to support his determination. The other patient you’ll read about, Mike Zawilski, received a groundbreaking new treatment for liver cancer that extended his life beyond initial expectations. Both patients passed away in October. What we learned – and will continue to learn – thanks to Norman and Mike will benefit all others dealing with tough cancers.
I thank you again for your interest in the UC Davis Cancer Center and I hope that this edition of Synthesis will show you how we use your support and trust to the very best of our ability.