Collaborating to Fight Cancer

Thanks to a $4.25 million, five-year federal grant from the National Cancer Institute, cancer patients in New Jersey will now have greater access to the latest generation of clinical trials, including several that have never been offered. The grant is part of a research program that will allow Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey to share resources and expertise with the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center to develop clinical trials, and to widen access to additional clinical trials as part of a national network of cancer centers.

Clinical trials that test more targeted medications offer cancer patients more opportunities when standard therapies are not effective. The grant comes at a time when an approach to treating cancer, called “precision medicine,” has gained the attention of the medical community. Precision medicine includes treatments that are tailored to the specific genetic profile of each patient’s cancer, according to Robert DiPaola, director of the Cancer Institute, and it is widely seen as a major advance over previous methods of treatment for many cancers, which often use a one-size-fits-all approach.

DiPaola has presided over the institute’s efforts to develop new forms of precision medicine as well as clinical trials to help put them into use. “By working together,” DiPaola says, “we have enhanced opportunities to develop new mechanisms by which to guide more tailored therapies for patients.” The data from the two institutions’ clinical trials will be more valuable because it will be drawing patients from the heavily populated states of New Jersey and Wisconsin as well as from other cancer centers across the country.

The clinical trial project is one of the first cancer research collaborations between Rutgers and a fellow Big Ten® university since Rutgers joined the 15-member Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the academic arm of the Big Ten Conference.      
— Michele Fisher

A Noble Goal for a World Cup Goalie

Tim Howard, the goalkeeper who had a record 16 saves in the World Cup game between the United States and Belgium.


Tim Howard, the goalkeeper who had a record 16 saves in the World Cup game between the United States and Belgium, helped create the Tim Howard New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders Leadership Academy, which debuted at Rutgers in August.

When America’s soccer superstar Tim Howard was 10 years old and diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, he coped as many kids do, by trying to hide the embarrassing tics and twitches that make this neurological disorder so visible. Now, the 35-year-old goalkeeper—who stunned the world with a record 16 saves in the World Cup game between the United States and Belgium—wants to show young people with Tourette’s that they can succeed, too. A leadership academy that he helped create debuted in August at Rutgers, providing 23 teenagers from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania with skills to help manage challenges. Organizers hope to expand the academy and hold sessions at Rutgers each year.

“We want them to feel empowered,” said Howard. “The boosting of my self-esteem was the best medicine that I could ever have—or that I could ever give to someone else.” Howard serves on the board of directors of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders, which supports research and provides resources for families coping with the disorder and for professionals who provide care.

The center partners with the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, which offers consultation and psychological services to children and adults with the disorder, and RUCDR Infinite Biologics, headed by Rutgers geneticist Jay Tischfield, which collects and manages cell and DNA samples of people with Tourette syndrome.   
— Carl Blesch

Genes and Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded a five-year contract worth up to $19 million to RUCDR Infinite Biologics, a unit of Rutgers’ Human Genetics Insti­tute of New Jersey. Under the contract, RUCDR, which represents the world’s largest university-based biorepository, will expand and en­hance the services it provides through its NIDA Center for Genetic Studies, which RUCDR has supported for 15 years. The center provides genomic services to NIDA-funded researchers.

The Rutgers operation has been acquiring new equipment and systems, and refining its techniques, thus allowing the genomic testing and analysis for NIDA studies to be significantly more sophisticated, according to Jay Tischfield, chief executive officer and founder of RUCDR Infinite Biologics and the Duncan and Nancy Macmillan Distinguished Professor of Genetics.

The NIDA Center for Genetic Studies is a scientific resource for informing the human molecular genetics of drug addiction. The center stores clinical and diagnostic data, pedigree information, and biomaterials (including DNA, plasma, cryopreserved lymphocytes and/or cell lines) from human subjects participating in studies that form the NIDA Genetics Consortium.