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Abramson Cancer Center

University of Pennsylvania
Comprehensive Cancer Center

Robert H. Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil., Director

3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Main: (215) 615-5858
Medical Referrals: 1-800-789-7366

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In 1973, the University of Pennsylvania established a cancer center to serve as the focus and stimulus for all cancer-related activities at the University. In 1974, it was designated as a comprehensive cancer center by NCI and in 2002, it was renamed the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The mission of the Center is the eradication of cancer as a cause of human disease and suffering. The Abramson Cancer Center seeks to achieve this through relentless progress in basic research, innovative translation of new knowledge through clinical trials, and state-of-the-art cancer care. The Abramson Cancer Center established the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the Center so that patients benefit directly from research advances.

The 314 faculty members at the Center support 11 Research Programs that bring together investigators from 47 departments and eight schools with a shared interest in specific types of cancer or scientific themes. The goal of the Abramson Cancer Center is to facilitate collaborations that would otherwise not be possible in a traditional cancer center organized by departments. The research teams are multidisciplinary, bringing together experts in fundamental and translational research. The Center’s Research Programs cover: breast cancer, cancer control, cancer therapeutics, hematologic malignancies, immunobiology, melanoma and cutaneous malignancies, pediatric oncology, radiobiology and imaging, tobacco and environmental carcinogenesis, tumor biology, and tumor virology. Areas of concentrated research and clinical focus within the Center include the Basser Research Center for BRCA1/2, the Center for Personalized Diagnostics, the Center for Rare Cancers, the Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, and the Center for Advanced Cellular Therapy.

The Abramson Cancer Center has led the way in innovative cancer care in a number of areas including: discovery of the Philadelphia Chromosome — the first evidence that abnormal chromosomes can cause cancer; development of antibody approaches to fighting cancer, leading the way in targeted cancer treatment, including the breast cancer drug Herceptin®; development  of transoral robotic surgery (TORS), a breakthrough minimally invasive procedure;  providing evidence of sustained remissions of up to three years among a group of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia patients treated with genetically engineered versions of their own T-cells; engineering a second generation of T-cells that can eradicate deadly ovarian cancer; and founding OncoLink – the first cancer resource on the Internet.

Cancer treatment at the Center is provided by multidisciplinary teams that include physician specialists, nurses, patient support specialists, cancer counselors, dietitians, genetic counselors and rehabilitation therapists. The full range of cancer therapies are offered at the Abramson Cancer Center’s main building, the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, including proton therapy at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center and through the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Pennsylvania Hospital, and Chester County Hospital.The Center takes a holistic approach to care, addressing the psycho-social and physical needs of patients and offers a full range of services geared toward prevention, risk management, diagnosis, advanced treatment, a full range of clinical trials and surveillance after cancer. Support services are provided during and following treatment, from dietary plans to rehabilitation and integrative/complementary programs and assistance for cancer survivors through its Living Well After Cancer™ Program and the OncoLife survivorship care plan powered by Oncolink.

* This profile was provided by the Abramson Cancer Center.

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