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Keck Foundation Gift Launches Duke Neuro-Oncology Research Center

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. - The W. M. Keck Foundation has given $2 million to Duke University Medical Center to establish the W. M. Keck Center for Neuro-Oncology Genomics, Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane announced Tuesday.

The new center will be one component of the new $200 million Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, a university-wide initiative to meet the scientific, technological and societal challenges of the Genomic Revolution.

"This generous grant to establish the Keck Center offers unprecedented opportunities to accelerate advances in the diagnosis, characterization and treatment of brain cancer," said Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane. "Duke researchers will be applying new genome and protein analysis technologies with highly sophisticated bioinformatics technologies to help develop targeted therapies for each of the more than 125 types of brain tumors. It's very exciting and we are deeply grateful for the vision of the W. M. Keck Foundation that will make this important work possible at Duke."

Dr. Ralph Snyderman, chancellor for health affairs, said: "Cancer genomics research is a key component of our genome initiative and should lead to breakthroughs in understanding and treating cancer. Duke's neuro-oncology program is the country's foremost in translating molecular research into more effective therapies. We are most grateful for the Keck Foundation's investment in this program, which will establish a new model for incorporating genomic research into solutions for major health problems."

More than 20,000 new malignant brain tumors are diagnosed in the United States each year. It is the second most common form of cancer among children. Cures are rare, and progress has been measured in modest increases of lifetime. In addition to advancing scientists' understanding of brain cancer, the research conducted at the Keck Center will provide a model for progress in the analysis and control of other cancerous tumors.

Established in 1937, the Duke Neuro-Oncology Program is part of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first National Cancer Institute-funded centers in the United States. With 26 faculty members, the Duke Neuro-Oncology Program is under the direction of Dr. Darell D. Bigner. It is funded by more than 30 federal government grants, including the oldest NIH Brain Tumor Center Grant, now in its 16th consecutive year of funding.

The W. M. Keck Foundation, based in Los Angeles, is one of the nation's largest philanthropic organizations. Established in 1954 by the late William Myron Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Co., it awards grants for medical research, science, and engineering as well as a variety of community service, education and health programs.

Duke's new Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy involves not only scientists, engineers and physicians who can advance the fundamental base of knowledge of genome science and technology, but also Duke scholars in law, business, economics, public policy, ethics, religion and the environment. In addition to generating new discoveries for health care, the Genomics Institute seeks to explore the ethical and policy issues arising from the research.

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