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K-State Today

May 2, 2012



Private donations allow Johnson Cancer Research Center to award more than half a million dollars to K-State faculty and students for research and training

By Communications and Marketing

Private donations are making a difference for cancer scientists at Kansas State University. And the director of the university's Johnson Cancer Research Center wants to find ways to advance their research even more.

"Saving lives through cancer research isn't cheap," said Rob Denell, cancer research center director and university distinguished professor of biology. "And unlike cancer treatment providers, who charge fees to cover their costs, researchers are constantly competing for funds to support their work, the basis for that treatment."

K-State's cancer research gets a boost from the university's Johnson Cancer Research Center through the help of private donors who support its mission. With the funds that are raised through private donations, the center offers cancer research faculty and students around $500,000 a year in competitive awards to support innovative research, equipment purchases, mentoring of student researchers and more.

In 2011-2012, the cancer research center's competitive awards totaled $508,000. The Innovative Cancer Research Award program, the center's largest, provided nearly $210,000 to support investigations into such things as tumor suppression, pathogen susceptibility, a hormone-like growth factor involved in prostate cancer development and large animal model development for human cancer studies.

"We are grateful to have so many allies helping us conquer cancer in our time and pleased to redistribute 100 percent of their donations to our faculty and student researchers," Denell said. "Our dollars do make a difference and are often leveraged into large extramural grants. But we just can't currently meet all our scientists' funding needs, especially for equipment."

Denell and the cancer research center's advisory council want to turn recent, growing enthusiasm for K-State cancer research into greater financial capabilities to advance, along with the state of Kansas, to the forefront of the field.

University President Kirk Schulz sees great potential in the cancer research center's work.

"With our groundbreaking stem cell and nanoscale technology, and cancer diagnosis and treatment patents on the horizon, K-State is making its mark in cancer research and getting ever closer to becoming a top 50 public research university," Schulz said.

K-State currently has 80 faculty researchers affiliated with the center, conducting multidisciplinary basic and translational cancer research in 16 departments of five colleges. More information about the center is at cancer.k-state.edu.