UAB’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center receives $27.5 million from the National Cancer Institute – News

The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of 52 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. This grant renewal award coincides with the 50th anniversary of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, which received its first foundation grant and NCI designation in 1972.

Written by: Julie Cole Miller
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of 52 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. This grant renewal award coincides with the 50th anniversary of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, which received its first foundation grant and NCI designation in 1972. The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham received a five-year Cancer Center Core Support Grant of $27,477,570 from the National Cancer Institute. This prestigious federal grant renewal supports UAB’s cancer research program through 2026.

“We are honored that NCI has renewed our foundation grant for the 10th time, bringing us to more than five decades of continuous funding. This reflects the many significant accomplishments of O’Neal investigators and staff over the past 50 years,” said Barry Sleckman, MD, Ph.D., director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This sets the stage for our important work in the future as we continue to focus on reducing the burden of cancer and disparities in the state of Alabama.”

The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in Alabama and a four-state region. It is also one of the first eight NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Just four years ago, he became the recipient of a $30 million gift from the O’Neal family and shareholders – UAB’s largest gift at the time – allowing him to moving from the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center to the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.

The grant renewal process is rigorous and competitive, requiring a grant application that takes months to prepare. The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center’s renewal application received the highest impact score in its history, earning it an “outstanding” rating from the NCI. Within the center, the cancer control and population science research program received the “outstanding” ranking, while the NCI also gave high scores to O’Neal’s overall cancer relevance. and the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement.

The NCI CCSG grant complements more than $50 million annually in cancer-focused research grants that fund O’Neal scientists; but it is fundamental to achieving the center’s mission to advance our understanding of cancer in order to improve prevention, detection, treatment and survival for all.


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(Graphic by: Jody Potter)
Under the leadership of Sleckman, who joined the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center in January 2020 after serving as associate director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center is an important part of the UAB. economic footprint, with the NCI CCSG being the second largest grant on campus. It enables hundreds of O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center members to continue to advance innovative cancer research, improve cutting-edge patient care, and expand community reach and access to care, while recruiting and training the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians.

Last year, the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center enrolled 439 participants in clinical trials, which is a way for doctors and scientists to actively participate in efforts to improve cancer therapies, diagnostic techniques and prevention strategies. Physicians at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center offer more than 200 cancer-related clinical trials that explore a wide range of therapies, diagnostics, and preventive options, as well as community trials in cancer survivorship research.

“Today, many patients in clinical trials are experiencing remarkable effects on cancers that were uniformly fatal yesterday,” Sleckman said. “For this reason, providing cancer patients with clinical trial opportunities is truly the standard of cancer care at O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. Our CCSG ensures that this can continue to be a top priority, and we look forward to expanding our efforts in this endeavor.

“The center’s basic science and translational research programs are at the forefront of improving cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, including leading efforts in triple negative breast cancer, multiple myeloma , prostate cancer, and skin cancer,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, FACS, Dean of UAB Heersink School of Medicine, CEO of UAB Health System and CEO of UAB/Ascension St Vincent’s Alliance. “The NCI Support Grant is the most prestigious federal grant available to an institution with significant cancer research and patient care programs. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the hard work that has gone into this grant renewal process – a process done in a virtual environment for the first time, no less. Congratulations on renewing this elite designation and the funding to continue your mission.

O’Neal researchers are organized into four thematic research programs: cancer biology and immunology, experimental therapeutics, neuro-oncology, and cancer control and population science. Program research is supported by shared resources across the UAB campus; 15 disease-specific working groups focus on translational clinical research. Eight cancer management teams make up the O’Neal Cancer Service Line, the multidisciplinary patient care arm of the cancer center.

“The NCI Support Grant is the most prestigious federal grant available to an institution with significant cancer research and patient care programs. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the hard work that has gone into this grant renewal process – a process done in a virtual environment for the first time, no less. Congratulations on renewing this elite designation and the funding to continue your mission.

– Selwyn M. Vickers, MD

The Office of Community Outreach and Engagement is of particular importance to the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, a coordinated effort to advance programmatic research focused on seven cancers that pose a significant burden to rural and medically underserved communities. from Alabama. These include breast, colon, prostate, brain, lung, and cervical cancers, as well as multiple myeloma. This office aims to address disparities in cancer research and care, providing cancer prevention, screening, and care education in most Alabama counties. Focusing on the 26 counties most affected by cancer, this work is no mean feat in a state that ranks 8th in the nation for cancer mortality.

NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers must reapply for renewal and designation of their base grant every five years. The NCI defines its Cancer Centers program as a way to recognize centers that meet rigorous standards of cutting-edge transdisciplinary research focused on developing new and better approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. An NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center is one in which cutting-edge cancer treatments are complemented by research conducted in basic science, clinical science and/or prevention, and cancer control and in population science, but with added depth and breadth, spanning across disciplines to connect areas of scientific study.

The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of 52 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. This grant renewal award coincides with the 50th anniversary of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, which received its first foundation grant and first NCI designation in 1972. The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center then received its second NCI designation when It was named one of the first eight NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in 1973.