Coriell, Cooper, Rowan to create collaborative cancer research center

Camden Cancer Research Center aims to investigate cancer, translate basic cancer science into new treatments

Camden Cancer Research Center.

New Jersey’s role as a leader in life science research continues to grow.

On Monday, the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, Cooper University Health Care and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University announced they have launched the Camden Cancer Research Center, a partnership to investigate cancer and translate basic cancer science into new treatments.

The three organizations have pledged an initial $30 million to start the center, which is a significant collaborative effort — and figures to have a major impact in South Jersey.

Scientists in the CCRC will hail from the three organizations and the center will encompass all of Coriell’s cancer research efforts, including eight scientists responsible for $5 million in annual federal research funding currently.

George Norcross III, chair of the Cooper University Health Care board of trustees, was thrilled to make the announcement.

“Cooper University Health Care, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and the Coriell Institute — all Camden institutions — have long been leaders in science and health care in the region,” he said. “With (this) announcement, this new partnership will quickly become a national leader in the world of medicine and research.

“The Camden Cancer Research Center will accelerate progress on the cancer research front, changing the way cancer is diagnosed and treated in the future and saving lives.”

The cooperation of Coriell, Cooper University Health Care and CMSRU allows for unprecedented access for cancer researchers in South Jersey. This center connects scientists conducting basic cancer research with clinical care, allowing for the translation of basic findings into new treatments and improved patient care.

The Camden Cancer Research Center also will expand the resources and capabilities of the three institutions by creating new facilities with state-of-the-art technology to support this research. Among these new resources, a new biobank will be formed to house and distribute biological samples to scientists in the CCRC and other cancer researchers. This biobank will be housed at Coriell, long known around the world for its biobank, and guided by a Biorepository Subcommittee that will review requests for distribution.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Issa, Coriell’s CEO, will serve as the inaugural director for the CCRC.

“The scientists in this partnership are uniquely positioned to launch this one-of-a-kind effort. They come from a range of backgrounds and expertise, but share a goal: learn as much as possible about the complex ways cancer develops in our body so we can prevent or defeat it with new tools and medicines,” he said.

“The foundation of the CCRC offers this group long-term support in their search for new knowledge and their work to translate that knowledge to new treatments.”

Cooper co-CEOs Kevin O’Dowd and Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli agreed.

“This historic partnership will unite three nationally recognized institutions with a shared vision of developing life-saving cancer treatments,” O’Dowd said. “This unique academic and research collaboration between Rowan University, Coriell and Cooper will leverage the strengths and talents of each institution to unlock cancer research breakthroughs, which will save lives in our region and beyond for the years to come.”

“This partnership will strengthen and expand the amount of advanced research our expert team at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, one of the leading cancer centers in the region, can participate in to benefit cancer patients right here in this region and around the world,” Mazzarelli said.

The CCRC will be led by a governance board comprising six leaders from across the partnering organizations.

“CMSRU is honored to be part of this collaborative effort among Camden institutions,” CMSRU Dean Dr. Annette Reboli said. “The cancer research supported or performed by the CCRC will lead to breakthroughs that will ultimately benefit patients worldwide.”

This is the second research partnership between these three Camden neighbors. In the fall of 2018, the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, Cooper University Health Care and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University launched the Camden Opioid Research Initiative, a collaborative research effort to investigate the genetic and nongenetic factors that affect one’s risk for developing opioid use disorder or response to addiction treatment.