UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

In the late 1960s a group of scientists and volunteers at UCLA came together to develop a cancer center they hoped would become renowned for excellence in research, education, and patient care.

In 1976, the cancer center at UCLA was designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) [ [http://cancercenters.cancer.gov/cancer_centers/cancer-centers-names.html Cancer Centers Program - Cancer Centers List ] ] . Of the 63 NCI cancer center programs nationwide, only 41 receive the gold-star comprehensive status. UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) receives this honor for maintaining the highest standards of excellence in patient care, education, basic science, clinical research, and cancer prevention.

Today, the JCCC has established an international reputation for developing new cancer therapies, providing the best in experimental and traditional treatments, and expertly guiding and training the next generation of medical researchers. Under the direction of Dr. Judith C. Gasson, the JCCC is ranked as the best cancer center in California and among the nation’s top 10 by "U.S. News & World Report" [ [http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/best-hospitals/search.php?spec=ihqcanc Best Hospitals 2007 Specialty Search: Cancer ] ] .

With a membership of more than 235 physicians and scientists, JCCC is one of the largest comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. Providing the latest in experimental cancer treatments and hundreds of clinical trials, the JCCC offers a wide array of benefits to patients. The Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation(JCCF) is the fundraising arm for the JCCC and distributes funds to support cutting edge research.

Mission Statement

As defined by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the mission of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center follows:

NCI-designated Cancer Centers are a major source of discovery of the nature of cancer and of the development of more effective approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. They also deliver medical advances to patients and their families, educate health-care professionals and the public, and reach out to underserved populations. They are characterized by: strong organizational capabilities; institutional commitment; Transdisciplinary, cancer-focused science; experienced scientific and administrative leadership; and state-of-the-art cancer research and patient care facilities.

Cancer Research Divisions

UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center operates 12 program areas organized to foster interdisciplinary, collaborative research across academic units. JCCC also offers a variety of Shared Resources to help JCCC researchers find more effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. The 12 JCCC program areas fall under three Divisions:

Basic Research
*Cancer Cell Biology Program Area
*Cancer Molecular Imaging Program Area
*Gene Regulation Program Area
*Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program Area
*Tumor Immunology Program Area

Clinical/Translational Research Programs
*Genitourinary Oncology Program Area
*Hematopoietic Malignancies Program Area
*Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program Area
*Thoracic Oncology Program Area
*Women’s Cancers Program Area

Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research
*Healthy and At-Risk Populations Program Area
*Molecular-Epidemiology and Carcinogenesis Program Area
*Patients and Survivors Program Area

JCCC Firsts

At UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC), the award-winning researchers have set an admirable pace to establish themselves in a rapidly changing field. Among their most notable accomplishments:
*Dr. Dennis Slamon discovered the relationship between the HER-2/neu gene and an aggressive form of breast cancer found in about 30 percent of patients. This discovery led to the development of the new breast cancer drug Herceptin, approved by the FDA on Sept. 25, 1998, making it the first approved treatment that attacks cancer at its genetic roots. Slamon has been honored for his efforts by the National Breast Cancer Coalition, Americans for Medical Progress, and the American Association for Cancer Research.
*JCCC was one of three sites nationwide to conduct the first human tests on Gleevec, a once-a-day pill for a common form of adult leukemia called chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Much of the pioneering work done to link the Bcr-Abl gene and its mutant protein with CML was done at JCCC by Dr. Owen Witte, a professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics and a renowned investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The findings served as a basis for the evolution of Gleevec, a molecularly targeted therapy that attacks the mutant Bcr-Abl protein. Dr. Charles Sawyers, who participated in Witte’s research, conducted early-phase clinical trials of Gleevec at UCLA as well as later studies of CML patients in myeloid blast crisis, the final stage of the disease that is usually fatal within four to six months. Gleevec, developed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., also is being studied as a possible treatment for gastrointestinal stromal tumors.
*Drs. Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, Jorge Barrio, Simon Cherry, Harvey Herschman, Michael Phelps, and Nagichettiar Satyamurthy were the first to develop a novel technology that essentially renders the body transparent and allows physicians to determine whether gene therapies reach targeted cells and work as they should. Using a specially designed "reporter" gene and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners to establish pictures of gene therapies at work in the body, UCLA researchers test the tracking system in prostate cancer patients and work with researchers at other institutions to help them evaluate other gene therapy studies for cancer patients.
*Dr. Fred Eilber developed a limb salvage technique that now serves as a national model. He treats sarcoma patients with chemotherapy before surgery, avoiding limb amputation that would otherwise be required.
*Dr. John Glaspy demonstrated for the first time that dietary regulation of certain fatty acids can change the composition of human breast tissue in such a way that it may be more resistant to cancer.
*Dr. Judith C. Gasson and her colleagues purified GM-CSF, the first human growth factor ever purified, which shortened from about five weeks to two weeks the time it takes for cancer patients to recover their white blood cell counts after bone marrow transplants.
*Drs. Mary Territo and John Glaspy used megakaryocyte growth and development factor (MGDF) for the first time to speed up a cancer patient's bone marrow recovery after transplant. Glaspy used MGDF to accelerate platelet cell recovery.
*Drs. Robert Figlin and Arie Belldegrun developed a new approach to treating metastatic kidney cancer by combining biologic and cellular therapies to extend remission times.
*Dr. Charles Sawyers developed the first animal model for prostate cancer. Previously, there was no way to grow prostate cancer tumor cells outside a patient's body. The ability to grow those cells in animals provided researchers with a crucial new tool.
*Dr. Mark Pegram led the team of JCCC doctors who were the first to treat ovarian cancer patients with gene therapy using the p53 tumor suppressor gene.
*JCCC opened the first multidisciplinary breast cancer center on the West Coast of the United States, the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center, which provides in one location a comprehensive program for women with breast problems and those at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Patient Benefits

Patients at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) benefit from care provided by experts of different specialties. These experts work together to help patients with both the immediate and long-term challenges of cancer. Cancer patients receive team-oriented, state-of-the-art care in the UCLA clinics, programs, and hospitals that focus on specific kinds of cancers. Treatment centers are located on the UCLA campus in Westwood and across Los Angeles County. UCLA’s clinical trials are offered across the entire United States. Patients who require hospitalization can receive care at one of four hospitals in Westwood and Santa Monica. Support, education, and wellness of cancer patients and their families is fully part of the JCCC’s comprehensive services. For people at high risk of cancer due to family histories or inherited genetic mutations associated with cancer, prevention experts at UCLA are leading research studies on genetics and lifestyle factors that show how to minimize risk of getting cancer.

External links

* [http://www.cancer.ucla.edu UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center]
* [http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/Index.aspx?page=8 Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation]
* [http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/Index.aspx?page=66 JCCC Firsts]
* [http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/Index.aspx?page=3 JCCC Research]
* [http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/Index.aspx?page=417 JCCC Patient Benefits]


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