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University Medical School nets its largest research grant ever

Salam Rida/Daily
Congressman, John Dingell, congratulates the University of Michigan Medical School for receiving the largest grant in the school's history at the East Medical Campus on April 9 2010. Buy this photo

BY DAVID BUCCILLI
For the Daily
Published April 9, 2010

The University’s Medical School received its largest research award ever Friday.

United States Rep. John Dingell (D–Ann Arbor) presented the Medical School with a $63 million award from the National Institutes of Health to be used over the next six years as part of its work with the Southwest Oncology Group. The grant is part of a larger package totaling $120 million awarded to SWOG, which is based at the University.

This is the second largest research award the University has ever received after a $70 million grant the Institute for Social Research received in 2006 for studies on aging.

In a press release distributed on Friday, National Cancer Institute officials highlighted SWOG’s track record of conducting research that “has touched the lives of virtually every adult cancer patient in this nation.”

SWOG is one of the nation’s largest clinical trial groups with more than 5,000 affiliated researchers and 500 institutions around the world.

The Group’s Executive Officer Anne Schott said at the presentation ceremony that the University’s $63 million grant was the “principal grant” of more than $120 million in grants awarded by the NCI to SWOG.

“(SWOG’s) connections in the state of Michigan (are) broad,” Schott said. “Group connections in the University of Michigan are deep and proud standing.”

About $3 million of the $63-million grant will be used each of the six years to help support salary and indirect costs.

SWOG spokesman Frank DeSanto said in an interview with The Michigan Daily that the grant will focus particularly on cancer treatment trials, though SWOG also does cancer prevention trials.

“SWOG focuses on adult cancers and pretty much the entire range of adult cancers,” DeSanto said.

DeSanto said before receiving the grant, which is a renewal of a grant administered previously, the University had to go through “a competitive renewal” process.

“You have to prove what you’re doing and if your work is worthy of being funded again,” DeSanto said.

He added that University researchers put the most patients in SWOG studies.

“It’s in a way very fitting that SWOG is headquarted here,” DeSanto said. “It’s certainly a pride for us.”

Before presenting the grant, Dingell said the funding would help fight cancer and continue making the University one of the greatest research institutions in the country.

“It means a huge amount to everyone concerned, and it shows the remarkable strength . . . of the University of Michigan,” Dingell said.

In an interview with the Daily following the presentation, Dingell said the grant will not only help to make great strides in science, but will also benefit the state’s economy.

“First, this is a tremendous research project,” he said. “Second, this will support tremendous amounts of research and tremendous amounts of researchers.”