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Pennsylvania Lands $3.2M for Hershey PGx Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute will use $3.2 million in federal funding to start a new pharmacogenomics research center that will serve as a sample repository and research center for the institute, the university said this week.

The Penn State Center for Pharmacogenetics will house the cancer institute's samples and will be a resource and research center for translational studies focused on oncology drugs and prevention approaches.

The funding was acquired through an appropriation requested by Rep. Tim Holden (D – Pa.) in the US Department of Defense Appropriation bill for 2010, which was signed in late December.

Specimens from the Center for Pharmacogenetics repository will be used to study individual responses to therapeutic drugs and environmental toxins in efforts to identify gene variations that could serve as markers for these traits, and could then be used to develop or tailor treatments to individuals.

The Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute is an affiliate of the DoD National Functional Genomics Center, which is aimed at bridging the gap between science and patient care and uses partners from government, academia, and industry.

"This site will allow individuals to respond in the most positive way to chemotherapy and radiation-based therapies for cancer treatment or prevention," Holden said at an event at the Medical Center this week.

"If we can better predict the interaction of tumor genetics and the genetics of individuals with prescribed cancer therapies before treatment begins, we can improve the care and outcomes for cancer patients and minimize the potential side effects of treatment," Tom Loughran, director of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, added.