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Fall 2009

Leading a New Era in Interdisciplinary Research

On June 2, 2009, UCSF opened the doors of the new Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building at Mission Bay, ushering in a new era of commitment to interdisciplinary cancer research. At over 160,000 square feet, the center more than doubles the laboratory space exclusively dedicated to cancer research and is the first UCSF building devoted to translational research for one particular disease. Housing all UCSF cancer specialists under one roof creates opportunities for new partnerships among investigators researching different cancers, as well as among bench scientists and clinicians.

Within the neuroscience programs at UCSF, the concept of personalized medicine drives both the science and its application. And perhaps nowhere is this focus more relevant than in cancer, which can result from a complex web of aberrant cell-signaling pathways, genetics and external factors. Because it is unlikely that there will be a magic bullet to cure cancer, effective treatment will be unique to each patient's particular biology and the specific characteristics of their disease.

Cancers of the central nervous system — brain tumors, in particular — are rife with complications, so we must prevent damage to functional areas of the brain during surgery and design effective methods of delivering medications past the blood-brain barrier. Using findings from basic biology to inform clinical decisions will be the cornerstone of new therapies for cancer &mash; this is what we want to accomplish for every brain tumor patient at UCSF.

Mission Bay's role as a hub for biotechnology is exciting for UCSF and the community because it invites further collaboration and hope for more rapid scientific developments. Yet we are merely beginning the expansion of UCSF's facilities for neurological disorders. On the horizon are a new neurosciences building at Mission Bay and a new stem cell research building at the Parnassus campus. These facilities also will focus on translational research that will turn laboratory discoveries into new clinical applications for neurological and neurosurgical disorders.

Centralizing our investigations will open doors to better treatments for MS, dementia, epilepsy and other debilitating disorders — and keep UCSF at the forefront of neuroscience.

Mitchel S. Berger, M.D.
Kathleen M. Plant Distinguished Professor and Chair
UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery

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