Knight Cancer Challenge: a progress report

In June 2015, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute announced to the world that it had achieved a $500 million fundraising challenge set by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, raising $1 billion for cancer research. During the year since then, the institute has been busy expanding research and outreach capacity, improving patient care and science facilities, and establishing productive new collaborations.

Sadik Esener Below is a sampling of accomplishments:

In March 2016, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute kicked off a major new initiative on the precision early detection of life-threatening cancers with the hiring of Sadik Esener, Ph.D., as director of the Center for Early Detection Research and Wendt Family Endowed Chair in Early Cancer Detection.

As a nanotechnology expert, engineer and computer scientist, he brings a systems-based approach to integrate cancer biology and state-of-the-art imaging and computing technologies.

In December 2015, Cancer Research UK, one of the largest funders of cancer research globally, and the Knight Cancer Institute formed an international collaboration to accelerate research in early detection.

This collaboration is part of the Knight Cancer Institute’s long-term commitment to invest in early detection research, to understand the biology behind early stage cancers, find new detection and screening methods and enhance the uptake and accuracy of screening.

In June of this year, the two organizations launched an early detection conference, the first of a series of annual events planned through this collaboration.

The Knight Cancer Institute continues to grow clinical trials capacity both on the main OHSU campus and throughout the state. In 2015, close to 700 Oregon residents consented to participate in interventional clinical research studies associated with the Knight Cancer Institute.

These research subjects represented 29 of the 36 Oregon counties. During the past twelve months, faculty researchers reported their study findings in such prestigious journals as CellNatureThe New England Journal of MedicineLancet, and many others.

The Knight Cancer Community Partnership Program, established in October 2014, provides funding and technical assistance to local organizations working to meet community-identified cancer needs. To date, 43 projects have received support in 32 of the state’s 36 counties. The projects represent the full range of cancer-related needs from prevention through survivorship.

The state of Oregon provided financial backing for a new research building for the Knight Cancer Institute in Portland’s South Waterfront District. Nearly 500 came to celebrate the groundbreaking on June 16.

The facility will house research programs in early cancer detection, computational biology, immuno-oncology, leukemia, prostate and other areas, and it will also have administrative offices, a conference center and street-level retail space. It should be move-in ready in July 2018.

Delivering high-quality, effective cancer care to patients is the backbone of the Knight Cancer Institute. Outpatient cancer visits totaled more than 84,000 in the last fiscal year.

In October 2015, the institute formed the OHSU Knight Cancer Network to collaborate with community hospitals, health care organizations, and physicians across the state to reduce cancer risks for Oregonians and improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients. The network also offers resources and support in directing patients to appropriate clinical trials.

“It’s because of those we’ve lost [to cancer] that we feel an urgency for our mission,” Knight Cancer Institute Director Brian Druker, M.D., told the crowd at the recent groundbreaking. “Our success will be measured by patients thriving and living normal lives because of the work that we will do here.”

View our OHSU Knight Cancer Institute 2016 Progress Report