Cancer researchers announce alliance

Koch Institute and Dana-Farber/Harvard Center join in bridge project

The two federally designated cancer centers in the Boston area are embarking on an unusual alliance that will combine the research strengths of both organizations to yield new treatments and insights into two highly lethal cancers.

Researchers at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center have collaborated in the past, but the so-called bridge project being unveiled Tuesday is intended to spark increased cross-Charles teamwork.

An initial $2.6 million round of funding, provided by foundations and philanthropists, will support two years of work by four research teams pursuing new approaches to pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. The project leaders hope to raise $50 million over the next three to five years to support multidiscplinary, multi-institutional research teams studying problems related to those and other cancers.

Linda Weiss, director of the Office of Cancer Centers at the National Cancer Institute, said that as the guidelines for cancer centers are being revised, more emphasis will be put on such partnerships.

“We are in fact moving in that direction and will be recognizing those kinds of collaborations much more strongly,” Weiss said. “Collaboration, I think, becomes very important, both for bringing in alternative perspectives and alternative expertise, but also for really moving things through the translational pipeline” and into the clinic.