A grim statistic is driving Steven Rosenberg’s mission to find new cancer treatments—and his partnership with Frederick National Laboratory to do so. “Every year in the United States, about 600,000 people die of cancer, 90% of whom die of the solid epithelial cancers,” said Rosenberg, the M.D., Ph.D., chief of the National Cancer Institute’s Surgery Branch, head of the Tumor Immunology Section at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research.
NCI at Frederick’s latest class of student interns continues to telework under pandemic protocols. While that means not working in laboratories or offices as they would in a normal year, it doesn’t mean a lack of opportunities to make a difference in science. In fact, according to Kedar Narayan, Ph.D., volume electron microscopy group leader at the Center for Molecular Microscopy, one opportunity is quite unique.
The Biological Response Modifiers Program in Frederick had visitors. A group of well-regarded scientific experts arrived in 1991 to tour some of its laboratories and spaces. Learning about the program was only part of their goal, however. They were there to evaluate it.
The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNL) not only tackles some of the world’s greatest biomedical challenges but also serves as a shared national resource to enable high-quality research beyond its walls. One way FNL does this is through the Technical Services Program.
The Biological Response Modifiers Program had come into its own. Gone was any thought that this was a fleeting initiative. It was a robust mix of clinical and laboratory science at the forefront of immunotherapy, what was becoming the next major method for treating cancer. The program’s capabilities expanded in the second half of the 1980s, even as its clinical trials continued to reveal insights into biological agents for cancer treatment.
Pockets of the NCI at Frederick campus have popped with color the past few months. Staff working on-site may have noticed landscaped flowerbeds boasting arrays of annuals and files of ferns as they passed by larger buildings. The plants were installed thanks to the Campus Improvement Committee, a small group passionate about making a big impact.
Their study started to unravel the riddle of how cancers spread, demonstrating that tumors are comprised of different types of cells, or heterogeneous. Up to this point it was thought that cancer cells in a tumor were identical to each other. The work conducted by husband-and-wife Isaiah (Josh) Fidler, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Margaret Kripke, Ph.D., in Frederick would eventually be recognized as a landmark discovery that redefined the scientific understanding of tumor biology.