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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2004
Contact: Karen Warmkessel kwarmkessel@umm.edu 410-328-8919
Ellen Beth Levitt eblevitt@umm.edu 410-328-8919

UM SCHOOL OF MEDICINE OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE $2.6 MILLION GRANT TO RENOVATE CANCER CENTER RESEARCH FACILITIES

The University of Maryland School of Medicine has received a $2.6 million federal grant to renovate and upgrade research facilities of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center. The grant was announced by Donald E. Wilson, M.D., M.A.C.P., Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine, who is the grant's principal investigator.

The funds will be used to renovate laboratory space on the 10th floor of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Bressler Research Building. It will enable the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center to expand its important basic cancer research initiatives, especially in the areas of breast and prostate cancer research. The new laboratories will have specialized equipment for new drug development.

"This grant recognizes the strength of our basic research program and the important work of our cancer researchers. It will help us to expand our research capabilities and open the door to significant future advances in cancer treatment," says Dean Wilson.

"This funding will provide critical, state-of-the-art laboratory space," says Kevin J. Cullen, M.D., director of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "The new laboratories will house researchers who are working on hormone-regulated cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer, and will help us develop new therapies for these diseases, Dr. Cullen says.

Monies from the state's Cigarette Restitution Fund Program will supplement the federal grant to complete the renovation.

The laboratory renovation is part of a major, multi-million dollar expansion program at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, which has 120 top scientists and clinical investigators who are doing cutting edge research on a wide variety of cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, head and neck cancer.

Researchers in the new facility will continue the pioneering work of University of Maryland researcher Dr. Angela Brodie, who developed a new class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors more than 10 years ago. This class of drugs was just found in a new study to reduce death from breast cancer by up to 40 percent -- a significant advance that had its roots here in Baltimore.

University of Maryland Cancer researchers are also involved in developing vaccines to treat prostate cancer. Such vaccines would boost the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. Clinical trials of the new vaccines are expected to begin in several months.

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