Cancer Researcher Receives Record Grant

Funds Used to Explore Causes and Control of Nausea

February 02, 2001

A University of Rochester Medical Center scientist was awarded $1.7 million to study the causes and control of nausea. The five-year grant, from the American Cancer Society, is the single largest individual research grant ever given by the not-for-profit national organization.

The funding sponsors one of the first projects in the country that combines the investigation of physiological and psychological factors that lead to nausea. Traditionally, research in this area has focused on one avenue or the other.

Nausea is consistently rated as the most distressing side effect of cancer treatment. For two decades, Gary Morrow, Ph.D., professor of Radiation Oncology and Psychiatry, at the Rochester, N.Y., Medical Center, has been investigating better ways to manage nausea, vomiting and other side effects. The ACS, National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Army Breast Cancer program have supported previous research.

"We're trying to help good people through challenging times," Morrow said. "Managing side effects is critical so that patients and their families can maintain a quality of life. If the side effects are well managed, the patient is more likely to finish a treatment at the proper dosage within a proper time frame. This can optimize the chance for a cure or long-term control of a patient's cancer."

Early this summer, Morrow will begin monitoring the nervous systems of patients while they are receiving chemotherapy and afterward. He will also study the various biochemical markers that may contribute to nausea.

Scientists have recently developed new drugs that better control vomiting, but they are not as effective in reducing nausea. This is one important reason to learn more about nausea and to explore other treatments in addition to medication.

Nausea is a very complex research topic, said Morrow, who serves as associate director for cancer control at the URMC's James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. "It's a uniquely human condition. Some people have no trouble while others have trouble from the moment they begin treatment."

The American Cancer Society spends about $100 million each year on research and patient support. Within the Eastern Division, which includes New York and New Jersey, 117 grants were distributed in 2000, totaling $35.2 million.

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Leslie White
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