The Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill was designated as an NCI cancer center in 1975 and received comprehensive cancer center status in 1990. It is the only public NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in North Carolina. With research that spans from the laboratory to the bedside to the community, UNC Lineberger clinicians and scientists work to understand the causes of cancer at both the genetic and environmental level, to conduct groundbreaking research and to translate that research into innovative treatment and prevention measures.
The cancer center is the largest research entity at UNC, both in size of faculty and external funding, and its 325 members are drawn from more than 40 departments at UNC, including the School of Medicine, the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the Adams School of Dentistry, the School of Nursing, and the College of Arts and Sciences. UNC Lineberger offers patient-centered care provided by UNC’s nationally known clinical faculty at the N.C. Cancer Hospital. The 315,000-square-foot facility includes multidisciplinary clinic space with a healing atmosphere created with patient input along with a nationally recognized Comprehensive Cancer Support Program. Adult and pediatric patients also have the opportunity to participate in more than 200 clinical trials for a wide range of cancers and across all phases of investigation.
Research at UNC Lineberger
UNC Lineberger faculty members conduct interdisciplinary research through nine programs: cancer cell biology, immunology, molecular therapeutics, virology, cancer genetics, clinical research, breast cancer, cancer prevention and control, and cancer epidemiology.
Lineberger researchers have played a critical role in advancing the understanding of the genetics of cancer. Their contributions range from defining intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer based on genetic signatures¾a finding that has led to better prevention and treatment strategies¾to leading key facets of The Cancer Genome Atlas, the decade-long research project that mapped the genetic and molecular changes in 33 cancers, including 10 rare cancers.
The cancer center has made a longstanding investment in breast cancer research, including the study of molecular phenotypes and pathogenesis, particularly in those patients with the worst prognosis. These basic biological investigations are linked to the center’s work on population studies, particularly within the African-American community.
Its cancer prevention and control faculty have led a number of seminal studies aimed at improving cancer care and outcomes and reducing the burden and impact of cancer. Specific areas of expertise include cancer communication and decision-making, health promotion and health disparities, cancer survivorship, dissemination, and health outcomes research.
Select Scientific Initiatives at UNC Lineberger
- CAR-T/Cellular Therapies: UNC Lineberger is one of a select few academic cancer centers in the United States with the faculty, technology and facilities to develop and deliver chimeric antigen receptor T-Cell (CAR-T) immunotherapy to patients, and to provide patients with therapies not available anywhere else. UNC Lineberger researchers are conducting clinical trials of novel investigational CAR-T therapies for Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, neuroblastoma, and leukemia, and they are developing trials for other cancers.
- Cancer Data Linkage: The Cancer Information & Population Health Resource (CIPHR) provides a prospective data linkage between metrics of cancer incidence, mortality, and burden in North Carolina to describe health care, economic, medical claims, social, behavioral, and environmental patterns. CIPHR enables innovative research that generates insights into risk factors for cancer; advances cancer prevention and treatment; informs the dissemination and implementation of proven prevention, early detection, and health system changes; and improves life after a cancer diagnosis.
- Cancer Genetics/Genomics: UNC Lineberger continues to make significant investments in cancer genomics with the goal to better leverage genetic/genomic discoveries and the impact they will have informing cancer risk assessment, identifying new drug targets, and defining predictive biomarkers of therapy response.
- Tobacco Control and Prevention: UNC Lineberger faculty are national experts in research, investigating a wide range of tobacco issues including smoking cessation, marketing and sales of tobacco, prevalence and modality of use, and risk communications. The US Food and Drug Administration used UNC Lineberger’s research to demonstrate how graphic warnings on cigarette packages can affect consumer behavior, an important step in the agency’s efforts to require the use of graphic warnings on cigarette packaging.
- Health Disparities: UNC Lineberger is investigating the causes and the personal, community and systemic impact of health disparities and potential solutions to address them. Notable research projects includes the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, which is investigating the differences in the causes, treatments, and long-term outcomes of breast cancer between African-American and White women, and the Accountability for Cancer Care through Undoing Racism and Equity (ACCURE) study, which is assessing approaches to ensure African-American patients with breast and lung cancer receive the same level of care as White patients.
* This profile was provided by UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.