September 14, 2009

The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the N.C. Cancer Hospital are creating the new face of cancer research and treatment in North Carolina.

At UNC, an unprecedented effort to make strides against cancer and the suffering it causes is fueled by collaboration across the population, basic and clinical sciences. UNC Lineberger’s 285 members hail from more than 25 departments across the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the School of Medicine, the School of Dentistry and the College of Arts and Sciences.

UNC Lineberger and the Gillings School of Global Public Health have a history of highly productive, collaborative research partnerships that focus broadly on the intersection of cancer and population health. Creative research into community-based prevention and early detection, environmental and occupational epidemiology, health disparities and equity, cancer survivorship, methods for improving cancer-related health behaviors, understanding the role of nutrition in cancer and dissemination of public health practices have produced important findings. These successful joint efforts have helped UNC become recognized in the top echelon of public university cancer centers.

A superb faculty and their public health approaches have been given tremendous momentum by the University Cancer Research Fund (UCRF). This is an unprecedented investment by the North Carolina General Assembly to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, early detection, effective treatment and improved survivorship for the people of North Carolina.

UCRF is allowing UNC to recruit additional outstanding faculty from across the nation who work in fields ranging from health behavior and the study of health disparities to genetic epidemiology. Expanded programs in health outcomes, survivorship, clinical cancer genetics, and pediatric, adult and geriatric oncology are becoming a reality. Basic approaches to cancer causation and treatment are growing in areas as diverse as computational genetics to nanotechnology and drug delivery. UCRF has served as a catalyst for programs that supported UNC’s successful bid for a National Institutes of Health Clinical Translational Sciences Award and provided seed funding to produce data that has led to successful competition for external grants.

At the same time, excitement is building around the opening of the N.C. Cancer Hospital. The state-of-the-art facility is part of the UNC Health Care System. We look forward to welcoming all patients and visitors in coming months.

UCRF-funded research and the N.C. Cancer Hospital are visible symbols of what we are achieving through collaboration, creativity and innovation. These investments truly make a difference to everyone we serve here in North Carolina and, we hope, to patients and families around the world whom we never meet, but whose lives are improved in some way because of the work we do.

— H. Shelton Earp, MD

Editor’s note: Dr. Earp is a renowned cancer researcher. He is principal investigator of the UNC Breast Cancer SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence), the Lineberger Center NCI core grants and several individual research grants. His laboratory conducts translational breast and prostate cancer and childhood leukemia research as well as basic research on the regulation of cancer cell growth, differentiation and death. He has authored more than 140 biomedical research papers. For details, see research/faculty/displayMember.asp?ID=50.

Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit

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