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Prepared by: Rob Denell is director of K-State's Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research. He can be reached at 785-532-6705 or rdenell@k-state.edu.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

OPINION: K-STATE, KU COLLABORATION MARKS A NEW ERA FOR CANCER RESEARCH IN KANSAS

MANHATTAN -- We all know diehard Kansas State University fans who root for whatever team is playing against the University of Kansas -- and I'm sure the sentiment goes both ways. But when it comes to something as critical as cancer research, cooperation is vital.

Cooperation between K-State and KU helped bring the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility to K-State and the Johnson County Research Triangle to Olathe. In recent years, our institutions shared $132 million from a National Institutes of Health program to improve the competitiveness of state scientists for biomedical funding, creating new grants and jobs.

Now a joint agreement, signed recently by K-State President Jon Wefald and KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway, marks the beginning of a new era for cancer research in Kansas.

Under the agreement, collaborative research that capitalizes on the strengths of each institution can take place.

K-State's basic cancer research emphasizes laboratory studies that address the causes of the disease and provide the basis for new approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The KU Cancer Center, on the other hand, treats cancer patients and incorporates a major research program directed toward human studies. Among its many advantages, this agreement will allow K-State's basic research to be translated to human clinical trials, advancing cancer research and treatment in Kansas to higher levels of excellence.

K-State scientists also will have the option to compete for KU Cancer Center funding, and sophisticated research facilities at both universities will be shared for the good of the cause. All of this will strengthen the KU Cancer Center's case as it seeks to be designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.

Rest assured K-State fans -- the two centers will remain independent. But increased collaboration will create a synergy benefiting both institutions, which will add even more to Kansas' momentum as a bioscience powerhouse.

So while we may root against each other on the basketball court and football field, fans of both universities can now cheer for each school as we work together to fight cancer.