Center News Magazine: New Opportunities for Collaboration and Translation

Saturday, January 1, 2011

As construction began on a new research facility, now named the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Center, Sloan Kettering Institute adopted new ways to advance therapeutic innovation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

In 2002, the William and Alice Goodwin Experimental Therapeutics Center (ETC), led by David A. Scheinberg, Chair of the Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry Program, was established to foster improved collaboration between Memorial Sloan Kettering clinicians and scientists who have an interest in drug discovery. The ETC provided an organizational framework that helped streamline a tradition of translational research at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dr. Scheinberg said. Sloan Kettering Institute’s Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, launched in 2003, accrued a multidisciplinary faculty focused on investigating various aspects of cancer and its treatment — from elucidating the mechanisms by which tumors metastasize or respond to therapy, to exploring new drug targets. And the Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry Program enlisted new expertise in chemistry — both scientists and research support staff — to facilitate the development of diverse and innovative pharmaceuticals, from gene therapies to cancer vaccines.

Since 1980, the Food and Drug Administration has approved nine drugs developed in Memorial Sloan Kettering labs for marketing — a success rate attained by very few other research organizations. (A study led by Boston University recently ranked Memorial Sloan Kettering one of the top three public-sector research organizations in the discovery of new therapeutic products, behind the National Institutes of Health’s intramural program and the ten-campus University of California.)

Following the ETC, nine other collaborative research centers have been launched at Memorial Sloan Kettering to facilitate interdisciplinary teamwork in key cancer research areas. (For an example, read more about Memorial Sloan Kettering’s new Center for Nanotechnology.)

Important collaborations have also been established between Memorial Sloan Kettering and other leading research institutions. For instance, the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative, created in 2005 with a $50 million gift from The Starr Foundation, brings together researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) to explore the therapeutic potential of stem cells. A subsequent $100 million endowment by The Starr Foundation led to the creation of the Starr Cancer Consortium, which coordinates cancer research efforts at Memorial Sloan Kettering, The Rockefeller University, WCMC, the Broad Institute, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (Read more about another research partnership, between Memorial Sloan Kettering and The City College of New York.)