LCRC Director's Update

LCRC Director and CEO Joe W. Ramos, PhD, shared the high points of his recent statewide tour of Louisiana cancer research facilities and his vision for the future, at a presentation at the LCRC and online on Tuesday,Oct. 25.  

Key Takeaways:

“Pursuit of NCI designation is a part of our effort but most importantly, our work is to minimize the burden of cancer in Louisiana,”Dr. Ramos emphasized.  After citing dismal statistics about cancer’s toll on Louisianans, he noted that “every one of those is a story. There's a family that's affected, and we have to keep that in mind. That's who we're doing the work for.”

According to Dr. Ramos, NCI designation is “a recipe that's been tested for the last 50 years that includes all the components of what a cancer center needs to do to really have impact in the communities that they serve.”

He invited qualified researchers in Louisiana to apply for Cancer Center membership, with a goal of facilitating statewide collaborations.  Members gain access to reduced rates at Center-sponsored core facilities and members-only pilot funding opportunities and other benefits.

Dr. Ramos reviewed the six essential characteristics of an NCI-designated cancer center and evaluated the LCRC’s strengths as to each:physical space, organizational capabilities, transdisciplinary collaboration coordination, cancer focus, institutional commitment and center director. He noted that  LCRC is strong in all of these areas as currently structured. He also noted the researchers that form the core of the work have done an outstanding job bringing in cancer grants and clinical trials to Louisiana.

LCRC members are involved in $21.6 million of peer-reviewed cancer-research funding (53% from the National CancerInstitute) which is in line with NCI designated centers of similar size.Additionally, in the area of clinical trials, LCRC members are involved in more than 700 open clinical trials and enrolled 2,347 patients in 2021, a strong benchmark of NCI designation.

Cancer research needs to be organized in research programs. Dr. Ramos is establishing new programs to align research in the following areas based on members current funding and strengths:

Genes X Environment - Viral Oncology, DNA Damage, DNA repair, some epidemiology

Therapeutics and Diagnostics – Development of therapeutics and diagnostics, developing or running cancer clinical trials

Tumor Biology - Discovery of new cancer driving mechanisms including signal transduction, hormonal response, tumor microenvironment, cancer immunology, microbiota and metabolism

Cancer Population Science and Disparities - The epidemiology of cancer, especially disparities, health equity, and behavioral interventions for better prevention and diagnosis.

Dr. Ramos and senior leadership are working on opening pilot funding opportunities and invited researchers to voice their opinions and indicate which programmatic areas they find appealing. “And by knowing that,”he said, “We'll start to assemble the programs.”

View the presentation here:

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