Prestigious award recognizes UChicago Medicine’s ‘high impact’ cancer research

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center
Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has renewed the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center’s designation as a “Comprehensive Cancer Center,” the highest honor an American cancer center can receive. The prestigious grant is awarded only to institutions performing exceptional research leading to major shifts in cancer care, and provides funding for the infrastructure that enables world-class cancer research. As a designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, UChicago Medicine’s center receives approximately $4 million in federal grant funding to support research, provide developmental funds to advance scientific goals, and foster cancer programs that draw investigators together from different disciplines.

As the lead federal agency devoted to cancer research and training, NCI recognition of UChicago Medicine’s cancer center assures philanthropic donors and grantmakers that it meets rigorous standards for multidisciplinary, state-of-the-art research focused on developing new and better approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer. In receiving NCI recognition, the cancer center has also demonstrated depth and breadth in population-based research to uncover the determinants of cancer, and a commitment to advancing clinical and public health to reduce the disease’s burden in the communities UChicago Medicine serves.

UChicago Medicine’s cancer center first received NCI designation in 1973 and earned its Comprehensive status in 2008. This is the fourth consecutive time the cancer center has received a five-year “Comprehensive” designation since 2008. In their most recent review, the NCI wrote that the cancer center is on a tremendous trajectory anticipated to continue producing impactful science, training a diverse workforce, addressing the catchment area’s needs, and impacting policy and global health.” The NCI team also gave the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center a “high impact” rating, acknowledging its strengths in basic, translational, and clinical research, and citing examples of its impact on the community, policy-making, and global health.

“As one of only two NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Illinois, we’ve demonstrated the depth and breadth of our cancer research and treatment as well as our deep-seated commitment to reducing the burden of cancer on the South Side,” said Mark Anderson, MD, PhD, executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago. “Advancing the science of cancer treatment and prevention through our clinical trials, innovative therapies, and focus on improving health equity is a commitment we’ve made to our community—one we will continue to honor for generations to come.”

UChicago Medicine is planning a series of activities throughout 2024 to celebrate five decades of NCI designation and to reflect on the University of Chicago’s long history of excellence in cancer treatment and discovery. Events will include alumni guest lectures, an educational symposium, a podcast series, and community events. “Fifty years after we first received NCI designation, our scientists and clinicians are still expanding the boundaries of knowledge and transforming cancer care and prevention,” said Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and dean of oncology in the University’s Biological Sciences Division. “I’m particularly excited for the transformational work I know will come from our laboratories and clinics in the next 50 years.”

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