Cancer Affinity Group Brings Together Basic Researchers
By Mika Ono
San Diego scientists and physicians gather at The Scripps
Research Institute (TSRI) once a month to hear a talk on a
cancer-related topicfor instance, the genetics of human
leukemias, the cancer-chromatin connection, or new paradigms
for drug development. The ongoing lecture series is sponsored
by TSRI's Cancer Affinity Group, which promotes intellectual
enrichment, scientific discussion, and exchange of ideas among
the region's scientists and clinicians.
"The Cancer Affinity Group is a loose organization of people
who are interested in cancercancer research that is
basic as well as applied," says Professor Peter Vogt, who
organizes the group. "The distinction [from the other affinity
groups at TSRI] is we try to reach out to the clinic and bring
in clinicians to our program."
Cancer Affinity Group lectures are held at 5 PM or later
in an effort to accommodate physicians' schedules. So far,
the group has attracted over 100 members from TSRI, Scripps
Clinic/Green Hospital, the other four hospitals in the Scripps
Hospital system (Scripps Chula Vista, Scripps Encinitas, Scripps
La Jolla, and Scripps Mercy), Southwest Cancer Care Medical
Group, and Children's Hospital and Health Center.
Vogt notes that both basic researchers and clinicians benefit
from the exchange. Basic researchers have the opportunity
to increase their understanding of clinically relevant problems.
And physicians have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge
of current and future therapies for their patients. Vogt sees
the Cancer Affinity Group lectures as a first step to encouraging
interaction among the region's basic researchers and clinicians.
While the affinity group is funded by TSRI, the creation
of the group in April 2000 was spurred in large part by the
founding six months earlier of the multi-institutional Scripps
Cancer Center, for which Vogt is associate director of basic
research. The center promotes bench-to-bedside research by
uniting the resources of TSRI and the Scripps Health and Scripps
Clinic systemsa mission that dovetails neatly with that
of the affinity group.
Alan Saven, director of the Scripps Cancer Center, comments:
"Collaborations between basic researchers and physicians will
ultimately benefit the patient. I want all scientists at TSRI
to be aware that there are physicians who want to collaborate
with them on their research."
Saven notes that basic researchers benefit from collaborations
with clinicians when the researchers are in the process of
developing new agents, when they need clinical information,
or when their research could be enriched with patient samples.
The 40 to 50 cancer physicians within the five hospitals in
the Scripps network represent one third of all cancer care
providers in the region.
For more information on the Cancer Affinity Group, see the
group's web page
or call x4-8079. For more information on the Scripps Cancer
Center, call (858) 554-8388.
In addition to the Cancer Affinity Group, affinity groups
at TSRI include: the Pathogenesis
Affinity Group, the Structure
and Chemistry Affinity Group, the Immunology
Affinity Group, the Vascular Biology
Affinity Group, and the Molecular
and Cell Biology Affinity Group.
TSRI Professor Peter Vogt, who is also
associate director for basic cancer research at the Scripps
Cancer Center, organizes the Cancer Affinity Group.