Center to seek national designation

HERSHEY — Officials are hoping that bringing together cancer treatment and research into one building will help position the Penn State Cancer Institute for a National Cancer Institute designation — which would afford grant money for increased research.

NCI sponsors the latest research for cancer patients, said Penn State Cancer Institute Director Dr. Thomas P. Loughran Jr. It is a competitive grant designated to be geographically spread throughout the United States, he said.

“The goal of NCI is to make sure everyone has access to state-of-the-art care,” he said.

The grant brings in $1 million a year to support core faciliites and research, pilot funds, and key administration, Loughran said. Receiving one of only 61 NCI designations avaialble in the nation would accelerate the cancer institute’s research process, Loughran said.

When it applies next fall, the Penn State Cancer Institute will need to show that it meets three criteria:

Loughran said even if they are not awarded the grant, research will continue at the cancer institute, and the new center would continue to be an economic engine for the area.

For example, Loughran said last spring, the cancer institute received $4 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to work with Lincoln University to research why there are increased colorectal cancer diagnoses in northeastern Pennsylvania.Penn State can also re-apply for the grant if it doesn't get it this time around, he said.

Loughran said the institute is still in the process of recruiting more scientists and more doctors so that when the larger facilities open, they’ll have increased staff.

Sara Ganim can be reached at 231-4616.