War on Cancer: UPMC Joins ‘Moonshot’ Initiative

WRITTEN BY: CancerCenter
Monday, June 27th, 2016

During his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama declared war on cancer.

He announced the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, pledging $1 billion to jumpstart new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. Vice President Joe Biden will lead Moonshot: The project will tap the work of researchers from leading cancer centers across America in an effort to eliminate the disease as we know it.


UPCI Joins Moonshot Initiative

University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter, is one of only 45 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute and is partnered with UPMC CancerCenter, which has a network of more than 40 treatment facilities, including the Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh. It is one of the largest integrated community networks in the country.

UPCI has hundreds of researchers who develop ways to diagnose, treat, and even prevent cancers. Discoveries in the labs eventually are used to care for patients.

Many of UPCI’s research projects overlap with the goals of Moonshot:

  • Together, experts from UPMC CancerCenter and UPCI developed Via Oncology Pathways. Pathways helps ensure that patients receive the best therapies for their types of cancers, which improves outcomes. Health and research experts update Pathways regularly to make sure leading treatment plans are available to patients. The Pathways database is used for the development of clinical trials.
  • UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter are breaking ground in cancer immunology and virology. Of the seven viruses known to cause cancer in humans, two were discovered by UPCI scientists.
  • A great deal of genetic testing is needed for discoveries like the above. For instance, UPMC scientists developed a technique that made it possible for them to identify Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV). MCV causes about 80 percent of Merkel cell carcinomas.
  • UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter are involved in the Big Data to Knowledge initiative, or BD2K. The National Institutes of Health created this program to help find the best ways to use health data to develop more personalized medicine. The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biomedical Informatics Center for Causal Discovery is an original member of the BD2K initiative and one of only 11 such centers in the nation to receive this award.

On Wed., June 29, the White House will host a national cancer summit. UPCI with UPMC CancerCenter is the only cancer program in western Pennsylvania to host its own regional, interactive summit that same day. Cancer patients, researchers, advocates, and health care professionals will discuss ideas on how to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.


UPMC CancerCenter


At UPMC CancerCenter, we are your doctors, caregivers, teachers, and support system. You are not alone in your fight against cancer, and we are committed to providing you the knowledge, inspiration, and specialty cancer care you need so you can face your diagnosis with confidence. We’re here for you – as part of the community – and that’s something cancer can never take away. Read More