Oct 212003
Authors: Christiana Nelson

CSU was awarded a $9.7 million grant Tuesday from NASA to

investigate radiation risks and to further cancer research. It is

the fourth grant the university has received in the last several


“The research will help humans and animals by adding to the

important information we already know about cancer,” said Lance

Perryman, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration awarded three

grants to institutions to study cancer research as part of a new

program to establish national centers that will study the risks

associated with deep-space travel.

CSU’s center will focus on the development of acute myelogenous

leukemia and will lead the cancer research, partnering with teams

at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Baylor College of


“This remarkable science is about how to detect a human or

animal at risk of developing cancer,” said Stephen Withrow,

director of CSU’s Animal Cancer Center, in a press release. “This

is a very basic science-driven grant that looks at why cancer

occurs and, in theory, how we predict risks or even treat specific

types of cancer.”

The grant will establish a NASA Specialized Center of Research

at CSU and will focus on identifying the risk of radiation in

connection with the development of cancer, said Robert Ullrich,

director of CSU’s Cancer Biology Group. NASA is particularly

concerned with the radiation risks astronauts may face in

deep-space travel.

“One of the things that is very unknown is about what conditions

astronauts face in deep-space travel, like Mars exploration,”

Ullrich said. “Astronauts are going to experience unique kinds of

radiation and because it is unique we have no idea about the


CSU’s study of AML will increase general knowledge about the

radiation because of its direct correlation, Ullrich said.

“AML is known to be caused by radiation of any kind,” Ullrich

said. “It is a type of cancer that is one of the first to develop

and difficult to treat.”

The NASA Specialized Center of Research is the fourth major

federal grant at CSU in the past month. In combination with three

previous grants, one grant from the National Institutes of Health

and two from the National Science Foundation, the NASA grant brings

the total amount of recent grant money awarded to CSU to about $56


The grant will cover five years of research and the center plans

to simulate AML by receiving radiation from the Brookhaven National

Laboratory in Long Island, NY and accelerating ions to higher

speeds and increased energy levels to test the effects of the

radiation on cells and mice, Ullrich said.

“We are hoping our research will have a much broader scope than

deep-space travel,” Ullrich said. “We hope to gain a greater

understanding of AML to help many people that develop it as a

second cancer after being treated for an initial form of


Anthony Frank, vice president for Research and Information

Technology, agreed that the research should have applications

beyond space travel.

“This research will help scientists understand and assess the

risks of long-term cancer development associated with deep-space

travel, but also has implications for the future diagnosis and

treatment in people and animals here on earth,” Frank said in a

press release.

The superior status of existing research at CSU is the main

reason that NASA awarded CSU the grant, Perryman said.

“The combination of excellent basic science and clinical

research has made CSU look pretty competitive in receiving this

grant,” Perryman said.





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