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Oklahoma’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Fund to Support Cancer Research at Stephenson Cancer Center and Affiliated Research Institutions

The Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has received the largest grant in its history – a five-year, $30 million grant – from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust to help translate promising research into new and more effective cancer treatments and diagnostic tools.

The grant will help establish the TSET Cancer Research Program to benefit cancer researchers at institutions across the state. A primary focus of the TSET Cancer Research Program will be recruiting nationally noted scientists to Oklahoma to build programs of excellence in cancer research. The grant also will provide important support for scientists at OU, Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and other institutions that are currently conducting innovative biomedical research in cancer. 

“I am deeply grateful to the members of the Trust which will increase the ability of the Stephenson Cancer Center to conduct research to benefit Oklahomans who suffer from cancer,” said OU President David L. Boren.  “The grant will help bring the latest benefits in research and improved treatment to patients to help save lives while Oklahomans stay close to home and to family and loved ones.”

Part of the TSET grant will go to support the Phase I Clinical Trials Center at the Stephenson Cancer Center, the only center of its kind in the state. By participating in Phase I clinical trials, cancer patients – especially those who have not responded to standard therapy – can access promising new experimental therapies. The TSET grant also will help support a statewide clinical trials network that is designed to bring clinical trials and new therapies to cancer patients throughout the state.

One in two Oklahoma men and one in three Oklahoma women will be diagnosed with cancer, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Tumor Registry.  The American Cancer Society estimates that 18,980 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in Oklahoma in 2011, and that 7,780 Oklahomans will die from this terrible disease.  

“The majority of cancers are due to lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, poor diet and physical inactivity,” said Tracey Strader, TSET executive director. “By investing in treatment and prevention research at the SCC, along with the prevention efforts of our other grantees across the state, we will accelerate our ability to win the war on cancer and improve the health of all Oklahomans.”

The TSET grant will provide essential support for the Stephenson Cancer Center as it moves toward its goal of achieving a designation from the National Cancer Institute as an NCI-designated cancer center. The nation’s 66 NCI-designated cancer centers are at the forefront of the nation’s strategy to win the war on cancer by establishing designated centers of excellence in cancer research and care across the country.  At these centers patients can access the latest, most innovative therapies.

“With this grant the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust has significantly enhanced our ability to conduct world-class cancer research and has moved us a big step toward our goal of having an NCI-designated cancer center in Oklahoma,” said director Dr. Robert Mannel. “Every cancer center in the top 25 U. S. News and World Report rankings is NCI-designated. By achieving this status, the Stephenson Cancer Center will join the top cancer centers in the country as a leader in groundbreaking research and state-of-the-art treatment and care.”

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