Massachusetts Life Sciences Center awards $2 million grant for joint center for personalized cancer therapy

Capital Grant Supports Collaborative Project Between UMass Boston and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center

Waltham, MA- The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Board of Directors today awarded a $2 million capital grant to support the establishment of a joint Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy (CPCT) on the UMass Boston campus.  The CPCT is a joint program of the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC).  An underlying goal of the CPCT is to address the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality.  The CPCT institutional partners share a determination to reduce cancer disparities and have been working together for more than five years on joint research, training and community outreach activities targeted to addressing cancer disparities among low-income, non-majority, and other inadequately served, diverse populations.

The CPCT will use the combined expertise of the UMass Boston and DF/HCC research communities, and of others in the region, to develop reliable and cost-effective tests to determine different sub-types of all common cancers. The CPCT will seek to prepare, distribute, and commercialize antibody-based assays that will distinguish different subtypes of human cancer.  These subtypes represent cancers that have different prognoses and will respond differently to treatment.

The new facility will drive basic research findings into clinically and socially useful products for the benefit of patients in Massachusetts and across the globe.  The CPCT will seek collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in order to develop and commercialize affordable clinical test kits for detailed sub-type analysis of individual patient tumors so that, ultimately, they can be used cost-effectively by practitioners in local community hospital settings.  The facility will seek to maximize economic impact on the state's life sciences sectors, while enhancing the state's highly trained workforce.

The Life Sciences Center grant will supplement $18 million in previously committed federal grant funding for the project.  The CPCT will begin operations shortly in UMass Boston's Venture Development Center.  Construction of UMass Boston's Integrated Sciences Complex, which will be the permanent home of CPCT, is slated to begin in Spring 2011, with an anticipated opening in Fall 2013.

"We are pleased to support an initiative that will address the long-standing racial, ethnic and economic disparities that exist in cancer care as well as improve the quality of care for all cancer patients," said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President  & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.  "This is an exciting collaboration between Massachusetts' outstanding public university system, and our world-leading Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. This project will provide training for the next generation of life sciences workers, foster the growth of new companies, advance scientific knowledge about cancer prevention and treatment and create jobs."

"If there is one thing that we've learned about cancer during the past quarter century, it is that cancer is not one disease but instead hundreds, and each cancer is often unique to each patient," said Edward J. Benz Jr., MD, director of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "This grant will further our efforts to develop more effective treatments that are tailored to the characteristics of a person's cancer. It also enables us to continue our important mission to improve research and training opportunities for students, nurses, and scientists from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds."

"We thank the Board of the Directors of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for this important support for the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center-University of Massachusetts Boston partnership and in the fight against disparities in cancer treatment and outcomes," said UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley. "This is a tremendous milestone in establishing a scientific facility on our campus to do translational research, partner with industry, build capacity for basic biomedical science, provide new workforce development opportunities, and deliver new products that will make an impact in the clinical market.  Most important, however, is that the new center will help us address our community's needs for justice in accessing cutting-edge cancer treatment."

"This grant supports the Patrick-Murray Administration's ongoing efforts to address health disparities and improve outcomes for patients," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby.  "This project will also strengthen and diversify our talented workforce, through additional training opportunities in biomedical research for the diverse student body at UMass Boston."

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center's mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit

About the University of Massachusetts Boston

With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston's only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston's eight colleges and graduate schools serve over 15,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit

About the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) is the largest comprehensive cancer center in the country, bringing together the cancer research efforts of seven Harvard or Harvard-affiliated institutions: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute, DF/HCC consists of more than 1,000 researchers with a singular goal - to find new and innovative ways to combat cancer.