M. D. Anderson's Cohen honored for contributions to traditional Chinese medicine

December 16, 2008

HOUSTON - Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is the recipient of the 2007 International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Award of Shanghai Municipality (ISTCASM) and the 2008 Magnolia Memorial Award for his contributions in furthering research into the use of traditional Chinese medicine in cancer therapies.

The prestigious awards, established by the Shanghai Municipality People's Government, recognize individuals and international organizations that make outstanding contributions to the city. The ISTCASM award has been presented since 2006 to those who advance scientific and technological development in Shanghai. The Magnolia Memorial Award, named after the city's official flower, was created by the municipal government in 1989 to show appreciation to expatriates who live in Shanghai and contribute to the city's economic performance, international relations, business environment, management standards and community development. Cohen was selected based on the merit of his scientific collaboration with faculty from Fudan University Cancer Hospital in Shanghai.

Cohen and his M. D. Anderson colleagues have worked closely with researchers in the Department of Integrative Oncology at Fudan University Cancer Hospital over the past five years, and in 2005 the teams were awarded a $2.15 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to expand ongoing laboratory and clinical research studies of herbal and natural-based products as sources for new cancer therapies. M. D. Anderson and Fudan University Cancer Hospital signed a sister-institution agreement in 2003 that formalized a framework for educational, clinical and research exchange programs.

"I am extremely honored to accept these awards and extend my deep appreciation to my colleagues at Fudan University and the city of Shanghai for making this partnership possible," said Cohen. "Together, we continue to make important strides in understanding traditional Chinese medicine and its potential to advance the science of cancer research and patient care."

According to Luming Liu, M. D., chair and Zhiqiang Meng, deputy-chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Fudan University Cancer Hospital, the ongoing collaboration with Cohen and M. D. Anderson has opened multiple avenues for research training. Currently faculty and staff from both institutions are supporting the collaboration through work on several research projects.

Joint clinical studies currently underway include examining the ability of HuaChanSu (a form of dried toad venom) to treat advanced pancreatic, liver and lung cancer. Energy-based practices such as qigong are also being investigated as a way to promote relaxation among breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.

"Dr. Cohen and the researchers in Shanghai have championed a 21st century research program dedicated to studying the mainstays of traditional Chinese medicine and its application to cancer," said John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of M. D. Anderson. "Their continued work in this area exemplifies our commitment to the exchange of knowledge across continents to benefit cancer research and treatment."

Traditional Chinese medicine dates back up to 5,000 years ago and in China is accepted as standard of care. The majority of chemotherapies used today originated from natural plants and many popular drugs, such as morphine and aspirin were derived from plants, according to Cohen.

At M. D. Anderson, Cohen said that over 50 percent of patients report that they use ingestible complementary therapies. "Growing numbers of patients globally are integrating complementary therapies into their cancer care, especially cancer survivors who are looking to Eastern medicine to manage side effects and even prevent recurrence," Cohen said. "It is important for medical teams to understand fully the potential benefits, risks and safety precautions associated with therapies such as traditional Chinese medicine, as we would any regimen."

Director of the Shanghai Ministry of Science and Technology of Shanghai, Shou Ziqi, presented the awards to Cohen in an official ceremony in Shanghai last week. Dutch horticulturist Co Buschman was also honored for his work with Sino-Dutch agricultural projects in Shanghai since 1997.
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About M. D. Anderson

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. M. D. Anderson is one of only 41 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For four of the past six years, M. D. Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," a survey published annually in U.S. News and World Report.

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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