Stand Up To Cancer, the charitable initiative launched last year and aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients as quickly as possible, will announce today the first round of three-year grants totaling $73.6 million to five research "dream teams."
These teams will conduct research that could prove revolutionary in the fight against cancer, including those of the pancreatic breast, ovaries, cervical, uterine, brain, lung, prostate and rectal and colon, which represent two-thirds of all U.S. cancer-related deaths.
"Stand Up To Cancer's dream teams are ushering in a new era in cancer research," said Charles Gibson, anchor of ABC News' "World News with Charles Gibson."
"By bringing together the country's top medical minds and encouraging them to work together toward a common goal, Stand Up To Cancer's model has the potential to produce significant breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of certain types of cancer," said Gibson, who took over the evening newscast after ABC News' Peter Jennings lost his battle with lung cancer in August 2005.
The American Cancer Society predicts that 1,479,350 new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year alone and that 562,340 people will die from cancer in 2009.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country after heart disease. "I applaud their efforts in keeping this issue in the national spotlight and never giving up their fight to discover the cure," said Gibson.
The five multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional teams are comprised of seven leaders, four co-leaders and 27 principal researchers from leading institutions, as well as at least two members from patient advocacy groups to ensure that the perspective of patients and survivors is integrated into the research.
"Recent advancements in basic science and in technologies have placed us on the cusp of important discoveries that can revolutionize the fight against cancer," said Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, one of the members of the American Association for Cancer Research's scientific advisory committee that made recommendations on which of the dream teams that applied for grants should receive funding.
"SU2C aims to capitalize on that progress and is pushing it forward at what will be an extraordinarily quick pace," said Sharp. "The dream teams bring together leading laboratory scientists and physicians, collaborating in ways that are unprecedented with laser-like focus on research that has enormous potential to help patients and save lives.
"The Stand Up To Cancer model could very well change the face of cancer," he said.
Scientists on the five teams will be able to address some of the most critical and promising areas of cancer research today.
Teams will look into cancer-causing genes and will use rare technology to try and understand how cancers spread and what treatments could be developed to help suffering patients.
Pancreatic cancer, one of the rarest and deadliest forms of cancer that has afflicted individuals, such as actor Patrick Swayze, who was diagnosed with the disease in January 2008, will also be the focus of one of Stand Up To Cancer's dream teams. Scientists plan to research what makes these fatal cancer cells grow and spread so quickly.
Scientists will also research different strains of breast cancer, one of the most common cancers among women, that have so far been resistant to therapies available to patients today.
The majority of the money that will be distributed to the teams was raised during last September's unprecedented collaboration between the three major networks, all of which donated one hour of simultaneous commercial-free prime time in an effort to raise money.
The broadcast, which featured live performances by recording artists, television and film stars and the evening news anchors from each of the networks, garnered donations from corporate and organizational donors, philanthropists, volunteer teams and the general public.
Stand Up To Cancer's next round of funding -- innovative research grants for individual investigators -- will be announced later this year.