At the Cutting Edge

Medicine at Harvard: The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

With a $38 million fund drive and a new name, the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute continues to work on the cutting edge of modern cancer research.

A $10 million challenge grant from the Charles A. Dana Foundation in New York City prompted the institute's board of directors to change the name from the Sidney Farber to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute last month. The foundation, which had previously donated nearly $7 million to the institute, made its donation at a time when cuts in government research funds threatened to set back the center's efforts.

"The Dana Foundation made a good investment: Sidney Farber is clearly one of the best centers in the country," says Dr. John R. Durant, president of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Pennsylvania.

One of 20 fuli-scale cancer research centers in the nation, the institute receives some $60 million a year in support, in more than 200 different grants. That represents about 3 percent of the nation's total expenditure on cancer research and control in fiscal 1981, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The institute's most prominent recent work has come in the field of disease prevention. Two notable projects in this area are a new procedure for transplanting bone marrow which does not require the marrow of a matched donor, and last spring's discovery of a relation between cancer and genetic changes in cells.

The bone marrow discovery could potentially help counteract auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis, researchers announced last week. The cancer gene discovery is still being researched, and will not be applied to cancer patients for many years. Other research projects currently underway at the institute include a study of sunlight's effect as a carcinogenic agent, and an inquiry into cell-growth control.