Research at the Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University (CCCWFU) is a federally funded, multidisciplinary, inter‑departmental cancer research facility.
Research is divided into three divisions:
- basic sciences
- clinical research
- cancer control
Within the basic science division there are specific programs including cell growth and survival and DNA damage and cellular defense. The division of clinical research has a major emphasis on technology transfer, with the goal of introducing new ideas developed through laboratory research to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
Major areas of clinical research activity in the Cancer Center include leukemia and hematologic malignancies, breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. A comprehensive bone marrow transplant program has been developed that includes trials utilizing both autologous and allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.
In addition to clinical research conducted at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, a major clinical program is focused on the diffusion and application of new information into community practice through the Piedmont Oncology Association (POA). The POA is an organization of university and community oncologists throughout the five state regions of the Piedmont: North and South Carolina, southern Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and parts of Georgia.
This Cancer Center sponsored outreach program focuses on collaborative clinical trials, prevention and control, and continuing education programs. Members include physicians, oncology nurses, PA's, and data managers who participate in Piedmont Oncology Association activities.
The Cancer Control Program focuses on research involving prevention, education, and psychosocial issues related to cancer. Moreover, the Comprehensive Cancer Center supports high technology core laboratories which facilitate cancer research. These include tissue culture, microscopy, flow cytometry, pharmacology, imaging, oligonucleotide synthesis, protein sequencing, GC/mass spectometry, and tumor tissue distribution.
The Cancer Center Research Base, under the leadership of Dr. Edward Shaw, allow the protocols developed in our Cancer Center to be made available to select Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) and Prevention members across the United States.
In addition to its own internally-derived Clinical trials, the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University participates extensively in national cooperative groups. These include the following:
- Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB)
- The National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP)
- The Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG)
- The Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG)
- The Pediatric Oncology Group (POG)
The members of this institution and its affiliates are major accruers to CALGB, NSABP, GOG, and POG protocols. In addition, Comprehensive Cancer Center members are involved in administration and research development in many of these groups. Numerous opportunities are available for participation in clinical and cancer control activities within cooperative groups.
Clinical Research Opportunities
Clinical research opportunities in the Cancer Center include development, implementation, and participation in phase I trials and pilot studies, phase II trials, and randomized (phase III) trials. Because of the large number of patients seen within the Cancer Center and by its affiliates, opportunities exist in virtually all areas of clinical trial development research.
The Cancer Center has developed and maintained strong ties with numerous pharmaceutical companies and has participated in the development and testing of many new and promising therapeutic agents. A large data base has enabled investigators to perform retrospective studies on many cancer sites. Prior studies in this area have explored the cost effectiveness of various imaging procedures in staging and follow‑up evaluation, potential differences in survival and response for African American and Caucasian women with metastatic breast cancer, and assessment in the role of chemotherapy for older women with metastatic breast cancer.
A significant body of research exists in the institution in the hematologic field with a number of investigators working in coagulation based research.
Hematology and Oncology
Within the section on Hematology and Oncology, Dr. John Owen pursues his interest in control of coagulation. The major effort currently underway is to probe the role of ADAMTS13 in TTP and related disorders. Other fields of study are the VKORC and alpha 2 antiplasmin genes.
The section of Rheumatology has two researchers primarily working in coagulation. Dr. Maria McGee has contributed significantly to the field of cell surface coagulation kinetics. She is interested in factor X activation and the role the membrane plays in controlling the rate of factor X activation. Dr. Reidar Wallin is a recognized authority on the intercellular processing of vitamin K dependent proteins. His major efforts are directed towards understanding and elucidating the control and specificity of the post transitional modification of the vitamin K dependent coagulation factors.
In the Department of Biochemistry, there are researchers working directly in coagulation. Dr. Roy Hantgan has a well established reputation as an expert in the field of physical measurement of biochemical phenomenon. He is currently using laser scattering technology to study the role of platelets in clot stability and clot resistance to lysis.
Dr. David Sane, from the Department of Cardiology, is interested in the basic physiology and pathophysiology of the platelet. His current work is focused upon the vitronectin receptor.
Infectious Diseases and Pulmonary Diseases
Two other groups with interest in white cell physiology include Dr. Charles McCall, Head of the Section on Infectious Diseases and Dr. David Bass, in the Section on Pulmonary Diseases (Internal Medicine) who head each group respectively. These two groups work together in a number of projects particularly directed at elucidating the specific mechanisms involved in priming of neutrophils.