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Notre Dame and Loyola team up against cancer

| Thursday, January 16, 2014

Notre Dame has teamed up with Loyola University Chicago in a multidisciplinary effort to advance the fight against cancer.

This collaboration follows Notre Dame’s recent cooperation with the Harper Cancer Research Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine – South Bend.

“The work with Loyola is just another avenue for sciences to interact with clinical collaborators,” director of the Harper Institute M. Sharon Stack said. “This is one way that we can interact and give [Notre Dame] scientists more opportunities to partner with clinicians.”

Stack said Loyola scientists and clinicians at the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center within the Stritch School of Medicine were initially motivated to “get together” because they were interested in a shared mission as two Catholic healthcare institutions.

The partnership began when members of the Loyola administration visited Notre Dame in the spring of 2013 and suggested a research retreat for the two institutions in Chicago in July of 2013, Stack explained.

“I would actually choose the word collaborate rather than partner for the interaction with Loyola,” Stack said. “[Loyola is] more clinically focused in its cancer research program and it wanted to expand interactions with basic scientists. Notre Dame has more basic scientists looking for clinicians to collaborate with.”

Currently, the Harper Cancer Research Center and the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center have funded corporations and submitted proposals to establish specific collaborations, Stack said.

The collaboration is beneficial to cancer research everywhere, she said. It invites “novel scientific perspective” by bringing together “people with different sets of expertise.”

Specifically, Notre Dame scientists will have the opportunity to bring some of their drugs and ideas to clinical trials using the Loyola system, Stack said.

The Harper Cancer Research Institute routinely researches and discusses many different types of cancer, Stack said. Ongoing projects in collaboration with the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center include cancer vaccine development, ovarian cancer, leukemia and melanoma.

Stack expressed high hopes for the collaboration.

“We’re hoping that one or more of these collaborations would end up in some joint grant proposal between a Harper and a Loyola investigator,” Dr. Stack said.

In this way, she said the two institutes hope to progress the fight against cancer.

Harper also plans to host a research retreat in South Bend this spring with Loyola collaborators, similar to the retreat held in Chicago last summer, Stack said. The key to beating cancer lies in getting the best expertise possible by using the skills of various scientists to address cancer-specific problems.

“What we’re really looking for … are people with clinical insight that can help us to make sure that the questions we’re addressing and our various model systems are the most accurate and representative of clinical problems,” Stack said.

Contact Joanna Lagedrost at jlagedro@nd.edu

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About Joanna Lagedrost

News Writer. History major, journalism minor. Notre Dame class of 2015.

Contact Joanna