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Sanford Physician to Help Direct Cancer Research Initiative

A new initiative co-directed by a Sanford scientist hopes to begin the implementation of new discoveries in the prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer.


John H. Lee, MD
John H. Lee, MD

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(Sioux Falls, SD) – A new initiative co-directed by Sanford scientist John H. Lee, MD of Sanford Clinic Ear, Nose & Throat hopes to begin the implementation of new discoveries in the prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer. Dr. Lee, a surgeon scientist who specializes in the treatment of head and neck cancer, will work with Dr. Chandradhar Dwivedi, Chairman of the SDSU College of Pharmacy, as the project co-director of the Translational Cancer Research Center, a collaborative project of Sanford Research/USD Cancer Biology Research Center and South Dakota State University.

The center was recently designated a 2010 research center by the South Dakota Research and Commercialization Council with the goal of improving cancer care in rural areas. With cancer as the second-leading cause of death in the United States, the need for continued research is strong. Translational research brings science to patients through clinical trials and new treatments.

Translational research is the bench-to-bedside approach to science. Basic scientists provide clinicians with new tools for patient care and for assessment of their impact. Clinical researchers then make observations about the nature and progression of disease that often stimulate further research.

"The majority of current translational research is conducted in places with a dense population, and those findings are best suited to patients of highly populous areas," Dr. Lee said. "Our collaborative center will allow us to work synergistically. The idea is for SDSU College of Pharmacy to develop promising therapies while the translational clinicians at the Sanford Cancer Center help implement the development of these promising therapies into humans. In this manner the people of the South Dakota not only benefit from the development of therapy by bringing jobs in biomedical research but also will benefit by having access to innovative treatments."

Beginning in 2004, South Dakota established seven 2010 research centers aimed at growing the state's economy by targeting investments in specialized research at South Dakota public universities. State resources supported the centers in their first five years of operation, after which they were to become self-sufficient through outside funding.

The center will also help develop the South Dakota economy by providing jobs and helping to train specialized researchers who can generate patents and intellectual property that can lead to commercialization and increased economic development in the state.