The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center had an outstanding 2016, as reported by Stephen B. Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH, USC Norris director, in his annual “State of the Cancer Center” presentation on Jan. 17.

“The cancer center is flourishing,” said Gruber, professor of medicine and preventive medicine and Jane and Kris Popovich Chair in Cancer Research. “We are growing in faculty, we are growing in publications and we are growing in grants. Most importantly, our science is exceptional.”

Funding for USC Norris grew significantly over the past year, from $85.6 million in funding, including $31 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in 2015 to $104 million in funding, including $33 million from the NCI, in 2016. The center finished 2016 with a healthy financial operating margin.

The increase in funding is tied to the growth and excellence of USC Norris’ faculty. USC Norris now represents 224 faculty members across eight schools within the university, up 3 percent from 2015. Over the past year, these members authored 945 publications, up 29 percent from 2015 and a record number for USC Norris. Of these publications, 31 percent are a result of inter-programmatic collaborations, reflecting multidisciplinary work toward new therapies and discoveries.

Gruber also highlighted key research and accomplishments toward USC Norris’ strategic goals, specifically the development and delivery of precision medicine, and the acceleration of precision care in Los Angeles’ ethnically diverse populations. One such project is the first study in humans using circulating tumor cells as a biomarker for greater response to cancer treatment. Yet another study examined genetic factors for multiple myeloma in populations of African and European ancestry.

Future plans that were highlighted include investment in cellular therapy and immunotherapy, as well as continued efforts to strengthen biobanking for all patients at USC Norris.

USC Norris’ clinical volume has grown across all locations. With the opening of the new Norris Healthcare Center, a 116,000-square-foot health center scheduled to open in mid-2017, USC Norris will better serve its increasing volume of patients with even higher standards of clinical care.

By Mary Dacuma