Basson leads team in winning $20.3 million NIH grant to help health researchers address cancer in the Dakotas

  • Friday, August 31, 2018
  • News
Marc Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS

A $20.3 million, five-year grant to the University of North Dakota could help counter high cancer rates in North and South Dakota.

Cancer is the leading cause of death for people ages 35-64 in the Dakotas. Half of men and a third of women who die within this age range have been diagnosed with cancer. Incidence of certain cancers are nearly double for American Indians, relative to the rest of the population.

UND was recently awarded a Clinical and Translational Research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to work with researchers and medical providers in the Dakotas, including North Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, Sanford Health, and other hospital systems throughout the region to better understand cancer and its causes, and to develop effective treatments for the disease.

Led by the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), the Dakota Cancer Collaborative on Translational Activity (DACCOTA) will use clinical research methods to study the link between cancer and the environment and pave the way to develop unique ways to combat cancer in the Dakotas.

“Our team’s goal is to develop a highly productive, collaborative and sustainable translational research center that will focus on the cancers that most commonly and disproportionately afflict the citizens of our region, especially American Indians,” said Marc Basson, principal investigator for the grant and senior associate dean for medicine and research and a professor of surgery, biomedical sciences, and pathology at the UND SMHS. “With this funding, we will not only conduct research but will train the next generation of cancer researchers throughout the region. I am grateful to the team of researchers throughout the region who have worked together with us to create this proposal.” 

“This prestigious grant moves UND to a higher level in medical research, allowing us to deliver more opportunity to our state and region,” said UND President Mark Kennedy. “It is a concrete demonstration of UND’s success in progressing towards our goal of reaching the highest rank amongst research universities. Congratulations to Professor Basson and everyone else involved in securing it and conducting the discovery it will fund.”

“This award is, to our knowledge, the single largest biomedical research grant in the state’s history,” said Grant McGimpsey, UND vice president for research & economic development. “This is a tremendous vote of confidence from the NIH and will have a transformational impact on the university and on the health of North and South Dakotans. At UND, we are driving research in what we have identified as Grand Challenges. This clinical and translational research grant reinforces our efforts in several of these challenges including Human Health, Rural Communities and Big Data.”

 “We are extremely proud that Dr. Basson has, with this grant, brought together the leading educational and health care delivery organizations in the region along with their outstanding researchers and providers to form a consortium that will reduce cancer risk through better understanding and improved therapies,” commented Joshua Wynne, vice president for health affairs at UND and dean of its School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Cancer is rapidly overtaking heart disease and stroke as the leading cause of death in the U.S., and this collaborative effort will help to stem that unfortunate trend.”

“The NDSU College of Health Professions is excited to be a part of this Dakota Cancer Collaborative with our friends from UND and USD,” added Charles Peterson, dean of the College of Health Professions at NDSU. “By combining the strengths of our regional research universities, we will be able to accomplish so much more than what we could do individually. This grant will provide us with an opportunity to significantly advance the research missions of our universities leading to positive economic and health outcomes for our state and region. This community engagement model of research is unique and will provide access to the latest advances in health care to many medically underserved rural communities in North Dakota and South Dakota.”

“This is an important and useful project, and we appreciate the ability to partner with UND,” said Mary Nettleman, dean of the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota.

“Integrating research into patient care is necessary to advance the field of medicine,” said David Pearce, executive vice president of research and innovation at Sanford Health in Fargo. “At Sanford, we’re proud to be a part of this valuable program for the region as we collaborate to develop the treatments of tomorrow.”