Mayo Clinic Cancer Center receives SPORE grant for lymphoma cancer research from NCI

September 18, 2002

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, in collaboration with the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at The University of Iowa in Iowa City, has received one of only two Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for lymphoma research.

This is the first time the NCI has awarded a lymphoma SPORE grant. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, holds another SPORE grant for prostate cancer research.

Effective immediately, the lymphoma SPORE grant will provide more than $2 million per year to both Holden and Mayo over a five-year period for five projects geared toward developing new approaches for treatment of lymphoma. Lymphoma is a cancer of the cells of the immune system and is classified as Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's disease. George Weiner, M.D., director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Thomas Witzig, M.D., a hematology/oncology physician-researcher at Mayo Clinic, will lead the collaborative lymphoma research program.

"The collaboration with Mayo Clinic on the SPORE grant was established because we have complementary strengths," Dr. Weiner says. "Mayo Clinic has particular expertise in the storing and evaluation of lymphoma tissue samples. The University of Iowa has a track record of using research laboratory advances to develop new treatments for cancers, including lymphoma.

"Both the Mayo Clinic and The University of Iowa have excellent teams of clinical researchers with national reputations as lymphoma physicians. This combination of shared and individual strengths between the two Comprehensive Cancer Centers is a powerful one, as demonstrated by our receipt of the NCI lymphoma SPORE grant."

According to Dr. Witzig, "Our collaborative research will concentrate on advancing patient treatment by developing new therapies and studying how they work. For reasons not completely understood, incidence rates show that lymphoma is one of the few cancers that is increasing in the United States -- nearly 64,000 people will be diagnosed with lymphoma this year and another 27,600 people will die from it. This requires the armamentarium of medical treatments to be expanded beyond the standard treatments of chemotherapy and radiotherapy into new areas of immunotherapy."

The lymphoma SPORE research program will focus on:
In addition to these research projects, the SPORE grant includes a developmental research program for new research ideas and a career development program to recruit and train the next generation of cancer researchers.

The NCI established the SPORE program in 1992 to promote interdisciplinary research and speed basic research findings from the laboratory to applied settings involving patients and populations. The goal of the program is to bring into clinical care novel ideas that have the potential to reduce cancer incidence and mortality, improve survival and enhance patients' quality of life.

Laboratory and clinical scientists work collaboratively to plan, design and implement research programs that impact on cancer prevention and control, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and survival.
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Mayo Clinic National Conference on Medicine and the Media is Sept. 20-22, 2002 in Rochester, Minn. To register or to get more information, visit the conference web site at or call 507-284-5005.

Additional contact information:
Mary Lawson can be reached in the evening at 507-284-2511

Mayo Clinic

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