UC Schools Collaborate On Cancer Research

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UC Berkeley researchers have joined with researchers at other UC campuses in an effort to find better methods for preventing and treating breast cancer.

The collaboration, announced Sept. 29 and known as the ATHENA Breast Health Network, includes medical centers at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Francisco and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. The project aims to screen 150,000 women across the age spectrum and places an emphasis on studying high-risk cases that will be followed through the next few decades.

The project will be funded through a $5.3 million grant from the UC Office of the President's Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives competition and a $4.8 million grant from the Safeway Foundation.

"The goal of this project is to follow patients from screening, to diagnosis, to treatment and ultimately survivorship, and to provide innovative and individualized treatment across the board," said Arash Naeim, a UCLA associate professor in residence.

He added that after treating patients, physicians at the UC medical centers will analyze whether the individualized treatments produced desirable outcomes that could be applied elsewhere.

Since UC Berkeley does not have a medical center on campus, the School of Public Health will serve a unique purpose in the large-scale project.

"Every campus has strengths, and the strength from UC Berkeley is that it has a strong analytical dimension," Naeim said. "Given the strengths they have in terms of policy analysis, when the data comes from all the campuses, UC Berkeley will be able to add to it."

According to Stephen Shortell, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, he and Joan Bloom, UC Berkeley professor of health policy and management at the School of Public Health, will focus on developing a "system for evidence-based management" for the care of breast cancer patients. Their task is to analyze how to best use clinical data in order to tailor specific treatments to patients over time, Shortell said.

He added that the graduate school will benefit from its involvement in the project, which will interpret the combined data from the medical schools.

"For our doctoral students, this will offer them an opportunity to do research with faculty, and to work on a an exciting research project," Shortell said. "It is an opportunity to contribute our knowledge and expertise for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer."

The success of the project would also provide a model for conducting future collaborative research on other public health issues, Naeim said.

"The goal here is to demonstrate that across UC campuses we can collect and share data," he said. "To share data we need the right infrastructure and technology, and what we do in breast cancer research can be replicated to other tumor types."


Contact Mojgan Rastegar at [email protected]

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