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Cold Spring Harbor Lab gets 'dream team' cancer grant

A scientific "dream team" that includes a Cold Spring Harbor researcher will attempt to answer persistent questions that have vexed breast cancer specialists' efforts to successfully treat advanced cases of the disease. Just as drug resistance is a problem in infectious diseases, so it is in cancer - and particularly in some forms of breast cancer that can be difficult to treat. Moreover, breast cancer, along with certain other women's malignancies, shares an enzyme that triggers otherwise healthy cells to turn cancerous. These two problems have become the subjects that a so-called "dream team" of scientists will try to solve in only three years - warp-speed in research. But by putting a scientific brain trust on the problems, cancer experts believe interventions can be developed that will save countless lives. Dr. Greg Hannon, chairman of genetics and bioinformatics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a recipient of one of the newly announced dream team grants, will devote his time trying to solve why - and how - cancers repel medications. The money that will pay for Hannon's research, as well as that of dozens of other scientists around the country, comes from a pool of nearly $100 million raised last fall in telethons for the advocacy group Stand Up to Cancer, or SU2C. SU2C was conceived by the American Association for Cancer Research, an organization that has bankrolled cancer research in the United States for 100 years. Hannon says he likes the idea of putting the best and brightest minds on a single problem. In this instance, he said, leading clinicians and scientists - some from competing labs - will share findings. "This is a new model for approaching things," Hannon said. "The philosophy is to bring together people with disparate expertise." He said that he and his lab will conduct the basic science research while clinicians at UCLA and other clinical settings will work directly with patients.

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