2010 brings to a close my first full year as the director of UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter, and what a year it's been! When I arrived in Pittsburgh in February of 2009, we were in the throes of a serious economic downturn globally, a persistent concern even today. Locally we were engrossed in the preparation and submission of our cancer center support grant for renewal from the National Cancer Institute. With the support and hard work of so many members of our team—laboratory, clinical, translational and population researchers and our incredible staff—we were able to announce in October of this year that our grant was renewed five additional years.
The grant renewal comes at a transformative time for us – the 2010/2011 academic year recognizes UPCI's 25th anniversary. Through a series of educational symposia, employee events and the annual Hillman Cancer Center gala, UPCI is celebrating its past and planning its future.
One of our exciting plans for the future is the soon-to-be-established Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Diseases at the Hillman Cancer Center. Thanks in part to a $3 million gift from the Mario Lemieux Foundation, the new center will be the centerpiece for comprehensive care and treatment of blood diseases in Western Pennsylvania. I believe it will be a beacon for patients throughout their diagnosis and treatment, a key component in moving innovative cancer research out of the lab and into the treatment rooms, and a pillar for recruitment of world-class investigators and clinicians to Pittsburgh.
All that we do is so dependent on our team. This year brought the arrival of several new leaders to the UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter community. Edward Chu, M.D., an internationally renowned expert in the biology and treatment of colon cancer and an expert in experimental therapeutics, arrived to serve as Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine as well as UPCI's deputy director. We welcomed Clayton A. Smith, M.D., an expert in leukemia and stem cell transplant, as the director of UPCI's Hematologic Malignancies Program and as director of the leukemia and stem cell transplant clinical services. Breast cancer scientist, Adrian V. Lee, Ph.D., joined us as the director of the newly formed Women's Cancer Research Center; he will serve with co-director, Robert Edwards, M.D. Finally, we are fortunate indeed that breast cancer expert, Steffi Oesterreich, Ph.D., accepted the position as the director of education for the Women's Cancer Research Center.
These four new arrivals join an impressive, impassioned team of researchers and clinicians, all dedicated to minimizing the burden of cancer. From our laboratories to our patients' bedsides, all of us at UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter are committed to our mission. I look forward so much to the next five years and beyond as UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter continue to grow, tackling new challenges while continuing to provide the best patient care possible. Cancer incidence and mortality continue to decrease in the United States. We want to do as much as we possibly can to make sure that this favorable trend continues.
I hope this month brings you time to reflect on the past year and celebrate its successes. And I hope you will bring new energy and commitment to our work in 2011.