The University of California, Davis Cancer Center, now recognized as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, partners with other institutions for major scientific investigations.

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Cancer Center was designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in March. The designation makes UC Davis one of only 41 such centers in the United States.

To gain this status, the center was required to meet stringent criteria in research, education, and disseminating advances to patients. “It's taken a lot of hard work to gain this new designation,” says Ralph deVere White, MD, director of the newly named UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Research partnerships played an instrumental role in achieving the “comprehensive” status. “Our work with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for example, has brought us technologies that are entirely unique and working with their scientists has been extremely fruitful,” says deVere White. “They have unique scientific expertise and we have patients.”

He points to one project aimed at miniaturizing a proton beam accelerator to fit into a standard X-ray room. “The scientists were giving a talk about creating portable proton beam accelerators to test nuclear warheads,” deVere White recalls. “We realized that the same technology could help more cancer patients if it were small enough.”

Another collaborative effort involves accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), a highly sensitive method for analyzing molecular changes, to study the effectiveness of potential drugs in humans by giving doses that are about 1/100th of the normal amounts in therapy. Using AMS, researchers measure tumor cell response to “microdoses” of drugs, such as cisplatin, and extrapolate the results to predict tumor response to therapeutic doses without the associated toxicity.

“We are not the biggest cancer center in the world,” deVere White adds. “But we have ways of leveraging our strength by forging partnerships.”

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