U.Va. Cancer Initiative Invests $300,000 in Public-Private Research Partnerships

October 25, 2012

The University of Virginia’s Cancer Center Technology Partnership Initiative has awarded funding to three projects bringing University and industry researchers together to accelerate treatments for brain, breast and pancreatic cancers.

Launched earlier this year, the initiative is designed to spur collaboration between U.Va. innovators and Virginia-based technology companies to advance cancer research, treatment and statewide economic development.

“As an engine for scientific discovery, the Cancer Center is working to optimize its dual roles in fostering not only a healthy citizenry, but also a healthy economy,” said Michael J. Weber, director of the U.Va. Cancer Center.

The projects were selected by the initiative’s nine-person review committee, which includes Max Wallace, CEO of Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure Inc., and Bill Wofford, partner at the Hutchison Law Group, and several U.Va. researchers and administrators.

“I am honored to be included as part of the U.Va. Cancer Center Technology Partnership Initiative, a unique and visionary approach to fostering the type of public-private partnerships that can help make our investment in academic research come to life,” Wallace said.

“This program will not only help patients, but it will also drive the growth of the innovation-centered businesses that are so important to our new economy. The proposals and presentations that we saw were truly excellent, and I am pleased that the very best of these will be moved forward even more powerfully with the help of these grants.”

The following public-private collaborations will each receive $90,000 to $100,000 to further their research:

  • U.Va. surgeon Dr. Todd W. Bauer and biomedical engineer Kimberly A. Kelly are working in partnership with Charlottesville-based biotechnology firm iTi Health Inc. to develop a molecular-based imaging technique to detect liver metastases in pancreatic cancer.
  • U.Va. oncologist Dr. Benjamin Purow is partnering with Reston-based nanopharmaceutical company Parabon NanoLabs Inc. to produce and test nano-pharmaceutical P25+Gd as a “plug-and-play” drug for simultaneous treatment and real-time monitoring of glioblastoma multiforme, or brain cancer.
  • U.Va.’s Mark B. Williams – professor of radiology and medical imaging, biomedical engineering and physics – and surgeon Dr. Craig L. Slingluff Jr. are partnering with the Newport News-based Jefferson Lab and Dilon Technologies Inc. to improve the speed and accuracy of cancer surgical procedures through the development of advanced imaging tools. The researchers seek to develop a tool for three-dimensional imaging using a new hand-held gamma camera and freehand SPECT, or single photon emission computed tomography.

“In pairing these skilled U.Va. researchers with companies throughout the commonwealth, this unique initiative is truly breaking down barriers, allowing our innovative researchers and industry partners to accelerate critical therapies for cancer patients and their families while also promoting economic growth,” said W. Mark Crowell, executive director of U.Va. Innovation and associate vice president for research at U.Va.

For information about the U.Va. Cancer Center Technology Partnership Initiative, click here.

Media Contact

Morgan Estabrook

Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications U.Va. Innovation