2 U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R
B Y J O S H T I L L
The Next Generation of Cancer Research
For more than 40 years, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center has been an international
leader in the research and treatment of cancer. As a National Cancer Institute-designated
“comprehensive” cancer center, it sits on the cutting edge of the latest technologies and
innovations that are changing the face of this disease.
In 2011, the Cancer Center received renewal of its core funding grant from the NCI—$27.5
million over the next five years. In addition to providing funding for the center’s administra-
tive and core research infrastructure, this grant, along with other resources from UAB, posi-
tions the Cancer Center to advance its research activities to the next level and beyond.
In this issue of UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, we take a more in-depth look at three
particular research initiatives at the Cancer Center that will have a major impact over the
next five years. Each is relatively new. All are extremely promising and exciting.
Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance: Developing Breakthroughs The Cancer Center—and UAB as a whole—has long been recognized for its efforts in drug
discovery and development: the process of creating a therapeutic agent in the laboratory
and nurturing it through the “research pipeline” of tests, animal studies and clinical trials
until it is at last approved for use in patients. UAB has enjoyed an extremely beneficial rela-
tionship with nearby Southern Research Institute (SRI). Over the years, UAB and SRI have
collaborated on many projects that have led to the development of new molecules and
therapeutic agents for many diseases, including cancer.
In 2010, the collaboration led to the establishment of the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance
to develop new drugs and further enhance research by UAB and SRI. “The hope is for
Alabama to build a machine to allow for drug discovery and ultimately hire not just technical
people, but also sophisticated scientists to work on these projects,” says Richard Whitley,
M.D., Cancer Center senior scientist and director of the alliance. “The program already is
funding 15 projects, at least half of which are in the domain of discovering drugs to treat
The Cancer Center, along with SRI and the UAB School of Medicine, has provided support
for the alliance. “Our goal is to take molecules, develop them through this process—includ-
ing preclinical toxicology and medicinal chemistry—and bring them to patients at UAB,” Dr.
The alliance already has brought several grants to UAB from the NCI, including one to
Stephen Aller, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and
http://the next generation of cancer research_uab_alabama_drug_discovery_alliance