The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) became an NCI-Designated Cancer Center in 1997 and was awarded comprehensive cancer center status in 2017. The Knight Cancer Institute is the only NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center between Sacramento and Seattle.
With its mission to end cancer as we know it, the institute is building on its groundbreaking expertise in targeted therapy to substantially improve outcomes for patients with advanced cancer and to enhance the ability to detect cancer at its earliest stages. From laboratory science to clinical trials of new treatments, to studying populations at risk, the institute’s scientists are advancing the understanding of the root causes of cancer and finding ways to improve detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Research at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute established the field of precision oncology through the work of the institute's director, Brian Druker, M.D. His research on imatinib (Gleevec), the first drug to target the molecular defect of a cancer while leaving healthy cells unharmed, transformed the outlook for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. Patients with this disease who previously had a 3- to 5-year life expectancy can now expect to live a normal lifespan by taking a daily pill.
More than 200 Knight Cancer Institute researchers are affiliated with 1 of 4 research programs: cancer biology, translational oncology, quantitative oncology, and cancer prevention and control. The science conducted at the institute sets the foundation for approximately 400 clinical trials currently in progress and available for patients with all types of cancer. Some of the institute’s research initiatives include:
- Developing the first large-scale precision early detection program of its kind, the Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center (CEDAR). CEDAR’s goal is to improve the early detection of cancer through collaborative projects in engineering, genetics, early cancer biology, population science, clinical oncology, and clinical trials.
- Launching Serial Measurements of Molecular and Architectural Responses to Therapy (SMMART), the institute’s flagship program in precision oncology. The goal is to analyze a multitude of cancer's features to allow an attack on multiple cancer pathways at once so that patients will achieve faster and deeper responses, preventing the development of resistance, and improving tolerance of therapy.
- Serving as headquarters for the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) Cancer Research Network, an NCI-funded global research community that designs and conducts clinical trials to establish new treatments, prevention strategies, and ways to support cancer survivors.
- Collaborating with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to create Beat AML, a groundbreaking multi-institutional research initiative aimed to improve outcomes for patients with acute myeloid leukemia.
Select Scientific Initiatives at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
The Knight Cancer Institute supports a number of key initiatives designed to foster discovery, application, and translation of scientific knowledge to benefit its patients and community. Some of these initiatives include:
- Offering multidisciplinary clinics for patients with breast, colorectal, liver, pancreatic, prostate, sarcoma, or thyroid cancer. All specialists collaborate to meet with the patient on the same day and ensure the patient receives the most appropriate, individualized treatment.
- Offering, through the SMMART clinical trial, the most comprehensive suite of tumor analytics that includes sequencing, pathway, and protein analysis; tumor immune profiling; and evaluation of cells that surround and support the growth of the tumor.
- Addressing cancer in underserved communities:
- Since 2014, the institute has invested more than $3 million in the Community Partnership Program to fund more than 120 community-identified cancer projects in all 36 Oregon counties.
- The Ted R. Lilley Continuing Umbrella of Research Education (CURE) internships provide hands-on research experiences to Portland-area high school students who excel academically and come from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
- The Knight Scholars Program offers the opportunity for youth whose communities are underrepresented in cancer research¾including those of minority races and ethnicities and those from rural areas¾to work in the fields of cancer research, treatment, and prevention.
*This profile provided by OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.