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Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance Reports On Tobacco Settlement Money Used for Research; Governor Ed Rendell to Speak at Reception Honoring Speaker Matthew Ryan

PHILADELPHIA (January 27, 2003) — Leading researchers from the Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance will report on the cancer prevention and treatment research supported by tobacco settlement funding received from the Commonwealth in 2001 and 2002 during a symposium on Tuesday, January 28, 2003, at the Whitaker Center's Sunoco Theater, Harrisburg, Pa., at 3:30 p.m.

Following the symposium, Governor Edward G. Rendell will join the Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance in honoring the Honorable Matthew J. Ryan (R-Delaware and Chester Counties), Speaker, Pennsylvania House of Representatives during a reception in the Whitaker Center's Amp Lobby at 5:00 p.m. The Alliance will recognize Ryan's efforts in guiding tobacco settlement spending for health initiatives in Pennsylvania and for leading the legislature in designating funding for cancer research conducted at Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance institutions.

During the symposium, physicians representing the Alliance will present information about the cancer problem in Pennsylvania, discuss existing research strengths among Alliance members, and explain why cancer genes are targets for cancer treatment. Robert C. Young, MD, president, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; Ronald B. Herberman, MD, director, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh; and Mary K. Howett, PhD, director, Viral Carcinogenesis Program, Penn State Cancer Institute, Hershey, will speak on behalf of the Alliance.

In 2003, some 70,000 Pennsylvanians will be diagnosed with cancer. To help these patients and their families, Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance member institutions will ask Governor Ed Rendell and the Commonwealth's Legislature to continue to designate a significant portion of the tobacco settlement for cancer research, prevention and treatment efforts.

The key to improved cancer treatment and prevention is the new knowledge that comes from research, and the pace of research is directly related to the availability of advanced technology and top talent, and the infrastructure needed to support them. A successful research effort therefore requires a steady, reliable commitment of support, and the tobacco settlement offers Pennsylvania an opportunity to make that crucial long-term commitment and to measure the results of its investment in lives saved.

The Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance is dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer on the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by pursuing world-class basic and clinical research to improve cancer prevention and advance the standard of cancer care available statewide. The members of the Alliance are Pennsylvania's leading cancer centers: Drexel University/MCP Hahnemann University, Philadelphia; Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; Pennsylvania State University, Hershey; Temple University, Philadelphia; Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh; and The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia.

The work at these institutions is directly enhancing our understanding of the causes of cancer and resulting in the development of new and effective cancer treatments and prevention methods.

Organized in 1998, the Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance set as one of its first goals the task of communicating to Commonwealth legislators the need to allocate a substantial portion of the funds from that year's national tobacco settlement to research and prevention of diseases directly linked to tobacco use, including cancer. They were successful in this effort, establishing Pennsylvania as a national leader in its use of these funds to fight against cancer and other top killers.

Alliance members are among the most active academic institutions in the nation in patenting and licensing their discoveries to the private sector for development into anti-cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. The biopharmaceutical firms that partner with Alliance members represent one of the most rapidly growing sectors of Pennsylvania's emerging knowledge-based economy.

Master Settlement Agreement Background

On November 16, 1998, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and 45 other states and territories entered into an historic settlement with the tobacco industry. Under the terms of the Master Settlement Agreement, the tobacco industry will pay the states $206 billion over 25 years. Pennsylvania's share of that settlement is valued at more than $11.2 billion. This settlement presents Pennsylvania with an opportunity to invest in research that will reap benefits for all its citizens for generations.

Other states have also recognized the importance of using funds from a tobacco settlement to build on existing cancer research capabilities. Settlements in both Texas and Florida provided significant support for their cancer centers. These states also recognized the economic importance of strengthening their biomedical research programs.

Cancer in Pennsylvania

Cancer incidence and deaths from this disease will be a continuing and significant assault on the citizens of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has estimated that, over the next 10 years, more than 700,000 Pennsylvanians will be diagnosed with cancer. More than 300,000 will die unless there are immediate and notable improvements in prevention research and cancer treatment. The costs of cancer in suffering and death, and in lost productivity, are staggering. As our population ages, the incidence of cancer is projected to increase 29% by the year 2010.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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