Rutgers Cancer Institute gets ‘comprehensive’ designation, $15m grant

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey was awarded a $15.1 million grant as part of its redesignation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute on Tuesday.

RCI is the only such recognized cancer institution in the state, and only one of 50 in the country with such a designation.

RCI works in collaboration with Rutgers University and Princeton University.

“The awarding of this grant and redesignation by the NCI reaffirms the value Rutgers Cancer Institute provides to our state through research, treatment, prevention and education,” said Steven Libutti, director of RCI and senior vice president of oncology services at RWJBarnabas Health.

Gov. Phil Murphy, who attended the redesignation announcement event in New Brunswick, said this enhances New Jersey’s image as focused on innovation and collaboration in life sciences.

“This longstanding collaboration between Rutgers and Princeton University is focused on reducing our state’s cancer burden through collaborative research, innovative treatment options and emphasizing cancer prevention and education to residents across the state,” he said.

“As governor, I am proud to have such a groundbreaking and forward-looking facility in New Jersey and confident that the work being done at Rutgers Cancer Institute will impact countless lives.”

The collaboration between the two universities and RCI has focused on cancer metabolism, metastasis and genomics, and has resulted in advances such as precision medicine and immunotherapy.

“We are exceptionally proud of the National Cancer Institute redesignation of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only one in the state, distinguished by the excellence of its leadership, research and treatment,” said RWJBH CEO Barry Ostrowsky.

“Our partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute allows us to offer our communities throughout New Jersey invaluable collaboration in providing the newest scientific knowledge and treatment of cancer.”

RCI has also been impactful in examining tobacco regulation and the impact on tobacco control policies, as well as the support of public health initiatives — including the recently developed ScreenNJ initiative with the New Jersey Department of Health to enhance cancer screening, prevention and education activity.

“This redesignation indicates that world-class cancer care and research continues to be delivered by Rutgers,” said Rutgers health school Chancellor Brian Strom.

“Our commitment is to advance human health by all means, from delivery of state-of-the-art care, to new discoveries, to translating scientific discoveries into clinical advances. This commitment benefits the lives of our patients in New Jersey and beyond.”

Princeton is also independently recognized as an NCI-designated institute because of its work.

“The synergy between Rutgers Cancer Institute and Princeton University continues to result in innovative discoveries that further our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of cancer and identify key vulnerabilities that can be exploited for targeted cancer therapy,” said Princeton University Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti. “By working together across disciplines and institutions as a research consortium member of Rutgers Cancer Institute, Princeton is pleased to contribute to advancing such critical work.”