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Tobacco-related Malignancy

Center of Economic Excellence




Award Amount

$5 million

External Funding Above Match


Research Focus

Devoted to discovering tobacco-related malignancy biomarkers via clinical trials with a specific focus on tobacco-related cancers. Additionally, the Center is evaluating the specificity and sensitivity of novel biomarkers by molecular epidemiologic techinques across the diverse populations of South Carolina.

University Partner

Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)

Private Sector Partner

Multiple Industry Partners

The SmartState Center in Tobacco-Related Malignancy is devoted to discovering biomarkers of tobacco-related malignancies. The initial focus is on lung cancer, but Center leaders hope to make advances in other tobacco-related malignancies, including head and neck, bladder, and esophageal cancers. The Center’s goals include:

  • Identifying biomarkers of tobacco-related malignancies using genomics, proteomics, and lipidomics.
  • Employing techniques to validate biomarkers.
  • Integrating bioinformatics to evaluate discovery efforts and to mine cancer databases.
  • Developing a networked tissue repository.
  • Developing and implementing clinical trials to evaluate new uses for biomarkers.

In conjunction with the Hollings Cancer Center, the Center partners with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the South Carolina Cancer Alliance, and other state hospital systems. These same partners, along with Health Sciences South Carolina and the Medical University Hospital Authority, will work with the Center to develop a distributed tissue repository and a clinical trials network.

In 2008, the Center, in conjunction with the Hollings Cancer Center, formed an alliance with the University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center on a renewal of an National Cancer Institute-funded Specialized Center of Research Excellence in Lung Cancer.

Two faculty members associated with the Center, Drs. Robert Gemmill and Harry Drabkin, have clinical trials partnerships with Syndax, Pfizer, and Novartis for more than $1.25 million in funding.

As a result of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation for the Hollings Cancer Center, a new collaborative project, NAVIGATE, has been initiated with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah to define specific barriers experienced by thoracic and esophageal cancer patients when seeking timely treatment options.

Since inception, the Center has received more than $12 million in research funding. The Center also participated in the application of the NCI Cancer Center Designation award and the $20 million National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award.

Extramural Funding Above Matching Requirement: $37.7 million

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