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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The University Cancer Research Fund (UCRF) is a nation-leading investment in research to reduce the burden of cancer in North Carolina – our state’s leading cause of death. Established in August 2007 by the State of North Carolina, the fund supports cancer research at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and UNC Hospitals. The fund provided $25 million in 2007-2008, $40 million in 2008-2009 and $50 million in 2009-2010 and thereafter from the state’s Tobacco Trust Fund, an increased tax on smokeless tobacco products and general revenue.

The fund is governed by a seven-member Cancer Research Fund Committee, chaired by UNC System President Erskine Bowles. This committee approved the University Cancer Research Fund Strategic Plan in November 2009, and the plan is now moving into the implementation phase.

The overall strategic planning process began in May 2008 with broad input on UCRF goals and directions. In addition to listening sessions held around campus, the strategic planning consultants (AltshulerGray) conducted interviews with 50 key stakeholders, surveyed more than 200 UNC faculty and met with both the UNC Lineberger Program Planning Committee and theme-specific faculty committees.

As a result of extensive analysis and faculty feedback, including a faculty-wide survey, three interconnected thematic research priorities were identified as key strategic focus areas:

  • Understanding Genetics and its Role in Cancer Causation and Treatment,
  • Developing New Cancer Treatments, and
  • Optimizing NC Cancer Outcomes.

In addition, the UCRF planning process recognized that outstanding clinical cancer research requires an equally strong clinical program that can reach out across the state to share its expertise and research opportunities. The Fund, therefore, should invest in building clinical excellence and outreach by:

  • Recruiting and retaining outstanding clinical investigators
  • Developing the clinical research infrastructure
  • Developing relations across the state through videoconferencing, outreach, and research partnerships

As the strategic plan moves to implementation, baseline data is being gathered in all of these areas and an evaluation plan is being designed to measure the impact and return on investment for the University Cancer Research Fund.