Paul Okunieff, M.D., is the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. Foundation and David B. and Leighan R. Rinker chair and serves as director of the UF Health Cancer Center and chair of the College of Medicine department of radiation oncology.

Paul Okunieff, M.D., is the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. Foundation and David B. and Leighan R. Rinker chair and serves as director of the UF Health Cancer Center and chair of the College of Medicine department of radiation oncology.

From the Director’s Desk

In the decades since the National Cancer Act was signed into law in 1971 to begin our country’s War on Cancer, cancer researchers have made great strides in saving lives through improved early detection, development of more effective drugs and advances in diagnostic and therapeutic technologies. New drugs for breast and lung cancers, supportive care for colorectal cancer patients and advances in drug therapies targeted to the genomics of a patient’s tumor have revolutionized how we approach cancer care.

Clinical trials are at the heart of every one of these advancements, yet lack of understanding about the benefits, risks and opportunities that trials offer can sometimes prevent patients from taking advantage of the newest drugs and treatments they make available. Clinical trials give enrolled patients the opportunity to be the first to benefit from new treatments, and they advance knowledge and discovery for future patients.

This issue of Believe in a Cure offers a glimpse into the UF Health Cancer Center clinical trials network — its leading-edge research and medical treatments, its dedicated teams in Gainesville, Jacksonville and Orlando and the partnerships it’s forging statewide with the aim of doubling clinical trial enrollment within the next five years.

We are also grateful to patients like Pat Theobald, the patient profiled in this issue’s “True Colors,” who participate in clinical trials. They are the brave trailblazers, advancing scientific discovery to benefit themselves and others. Without their involvement, improvements in cancer treatments would be difficult to achieve.

For that, we thank them.

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Summer 2014

Paul Okunieff, M.D

From the Director’s Desk

Clinical trials are at the heart of every advancement in treating cancer, yet lack of understanding about the benefits, risks and opportunities that trials offer can sometimes prevent patients from taking advantage of the newest drugs and treatments they make available.

To Kill a Tumor

Researchers in the UF Health Precision Cancer Care Program are identifying the genes of lung and colon cancer tumors, forming the first center in the state to perform this testing for solid tumors. By identifying particular gene mutations that drive cancers, physicians can deliver better, more targeted treatments to those cancers.

The Great Unknown

Each year, more than 1,000 patients take part in clinical trials at the UF Health Cancer Center. All are helping UF researchers chip away at the great unknown: what makes each person’s cancer tick, and how to stop that ticking without causing harm to the patient over the course of treatment.

Clear As A Bell

UF Health cancer patients and their treatment teams rang the Liminal Bell, an art installation consisting of a bell created from an oxygen tank that is suspended from an oak beam structure. The word liminal is derived from the Latin word “limen,” which means “threshold.”

...also in this issue

Center News

People In The News

Philanthropy