Lawrence Livermore Lab, UC Davis Cancer Center ink alliance to develop integrated cancer program

November 01, 2000

Collaboration is latest initiative between the national lab and UC Davis Health System

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the UC Davis Cancer Center have agreed to collaborate on an integrated cancer program that will bring together the advanced biomedical technologies and scientists of the national laboratory with basic science researchers and faculty oncologists from UC Davis.

"This agreement signifies an institutional commitment to bringing together researchers from two different cultures: the scientists of Lawrence Livermore with the patient-centered clinical researchers of the cancer center," said Ralph deVere White, director of the UC Davis Cancer Center. "Together we can create a multidisciplinary tour de force focused on revolutionary - as opposed to evolutionary - advances in treating cancer."

"We will be combining our basic science program with the basic science program of the UC Davis Health System to bring about better methods of prevention and treatment for cancer patients," added Jim Felton, leader of the Molecular and Structural Biology Division at Lawrence Livermore. "We are very excited about the potential of this collaboration."

Scientists from the laboratory's Biology and Biotechnology Research Program, Physics and Advanced Technologies Program, Energy and Environment Program and Medical Technology Program will collaborate with UC Davis Cancer Center researchers in cancer genetics, molecular pharmacology and new drug development in investigating new approaches to cancer.

Ongoing basic science research in toxicology, carcinogenesis mutation, animal sciences and DNA repair at UC Davis will be an integral part of this collaboration as well.

Specific projects under discussion include:
* Studies of phytochemicals that may affect the development of cancer. Using high-powered computers and imaging devices, Lawrence Livermore scientists are able to detect microscopic changes in the DNA of mice fed a suspected carcinogen found in grilled meat. With researchers from the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, they plan to study anticancer compounds found in broccoli and other plants to see if they can prevent these cancerous changes.
* Ultrasensitive pharmacokinetic studies using accelerator mass spectroscopy that analyze how well drugs are absorbed in the body. This study shows promise in helping physicians to fine-tune chemotherapy dosages based on an individual's metabolism, lessening toxicity and improving chemotherapy effectiveness. Physician-researchers in the cancer center's Division of Hematology/Oncology will work with Lawrence Livermore scientists in creating human protocols.
* The development of new light diffusion sensors that can detect cancer by measuring how light scatters when it is reflected inside tissue. Placed at the end of a cystoscope, the sensor could detect bladder cancer without a surgical biopsy. Lawrence Livermore physicist Stavros Demos will work with deVere White, chair of the Department of Urology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center, on this project.
* The development of an ultra-short-pulse laser to use the light scatter off tissue to create images that show melanomas and other cancers on the surface of the skin.

The process uses the tendency of normal tissue to convert laser light to a higher frequency, a quality cancerous tissue does not have. Beop-Min Kim of Lawrence Livermore and Dr. Karen Reiser, a research scientist in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the UC Davis Medical Center, are collaborating on this project.

The cancer agreement, formalized by a memorandum of understanding, calls for joint leadership, including adjunct academic appointments to UC Davis. Some Lawrence Livermore scientists will be named associate directors of the UC Davis Cancer Center or will be named principal investigators of research initiatives, both to broaden opportunities for federal funding as well as to enhance graduate and post-graduate education. Felton, a specialist in cancer causation and prevention, has been named associate director of cancer control for the UC Davis Cancer Center. Dennis Matthews, a physicist and leader of the Medical Technology Program at Lawrence Livermore, is associate director of biomedical technology.

Lawrence Livermore scientists are receiving lab and office space at the medical center.

The Lawrence Livermore affiliation will be an integral part of the cancer center's efforts to develop a program that meets the strict criteria for designation as a comprehensive cancer center from the National Cancer Institute.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, established in 1952, ensures national security and applies science and technology to important scientific and medical problems. It is managed by the University of California under a contract from the Department of Energy. One of the world's largest research and development laboratories, Lawrence Livermore has a $1.2 billion annual budget with state-of-the-art experimental facilities and researchers from myriad scientific and engineering disciplines. Strong research programs in carcinogenesis, DNA repair and medical device technologies bolster the laboratory's legacy of excellence in the biological sciences.

The UC Davis Cancer Center serves a population of five million people throughout central California, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon, logging some 3,000 new cancer patients and 21,000 visits annually. More than 100 investigators are associated with its research program. Areas of emphasis include cancer biology, animal models of human cancers, drug development, cancer control and prevention and prostate cancer.

As part of UC Davis, cancer researchers are able to draw upon the institution's many strengths, including the School of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and specialized centers in genetics, genomics, comparative medicine and primate studies.

Copies of all news releases from UC Davis Health System are available on the web at

Contact:Laurie Slothower
UC Davis Cancer Center
(916) 734-9023
Pager: (916) 762-9855

Stephen Wampler
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
(925) 423-3107

DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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