In the United States, about 17 percent of men will develop prostate cancer, and three percent of all men will die from it. To help answer the most pressing questions about a disease that affects so many, Northwestern Medicine scientists have received a five-year, $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute (NCI) to lead a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in prostate cancer.
The SPORE comes with demanding requirements, notably completing four studies that span the full translational research spectrum during the funding period.
“The whole philosophy of a SPORE grant is that you have to take basic science from the research bench and move it to the patient’s bedside in five years,” says Dr. William Catalona, principal investigator of the program. “Many projects could never qualify because you won’t see results in such an accelerated timeline. We’re driven to apply this research to help patients as soon as we can.”
The NCI supports SPOREs devoted to 18 different organs and systems across the body, from the brain to the lungs, breast, kidneys, skin and so on. The program is highly competitive: Northwestern has one of only eight prostate SPOREs in the country, and the only SPORE of any kind in Illinois.
Northwestern’s program was first funded in 2001 and renewed in 2009. The brand-new grant represents an updated research agenda, with new collaborative projects that will be carried out by scientists and clinicians at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and NorthShore University HealthSystem.