New Frontiers in Research
Most important in the battle against cancer is research. Our research programs are centered on areas that will help translate exciting scientific discoveries into new treatments for cancers that are particularly prevalent in our region.
Cancer Imaging Research
Because every patient is different, every cancer is different.
Molecular imaging allows for previously impossible precision in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases. Our Center for Imaging Research is one of only a few facilities with a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner and cyclotron located in close proximity, offering significant capacity for new breakthroughs in molecular imaging and precision medicine.
Our Institute for Genetics and Translational Genomics serves clinical and research programs throughout campus and is a crucial component of those that involve molecular imaging. This core facility equips us to make major contributions in this increasingly consequential field and those it supports.
A signature research program in molecular imaging, in combination with genomics, would position us to conduct some of the most compelling, cutting-edge cancer research being done anywhere. One area of interest involves using molecular imaging to catch cancer in its “predisease” state, based on minute molecular changes this advanced imaging reveals even before symptoms appear—and before other diagnostics would suggest an abnormality.
Health Disparities in Cancer
By studying our region’s unique health disparities, we benefit minority patients locally, influence research and best practices nationally and help improve patient outcomes globally.
Loma Linda University Health serves the diverse population of a vast region, including communities that face some of the nation’s most significant socioeconomic challenges—and correspondingly worrisome health indicators. Ten years ago, we formalized a response to our region’s health disparities by opening our Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine, which the National Institutes of Health have now designated as a Center of Excellence in Health Disparities and Minority Health—one of only four in California and 48 in the nation.
The center’s work has given us a proven track record for health disparities research. We could build on this strength and create a signature research program focused on health disparities specific to cancer.
Pediatric Leukemia Research
Our researchers are one step closer to curing one of the most deadly forms of cancer in children.
Kimberly Payne, PhD, and her research team are working to solve an especially aggressive form of pediatric cancer called B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which has a survival rate of only 30%. They created a model that replicates the development of this disease in an environment that mimics the human body. This allows the team to test treatment options, moving the researchers ever closer to a cure.
Scientists anticipate that preclinical models such as the one Dr. Payne and her team created will become indispensable for fighting cancer. Our success in this area of study, our national leadership in pediatric cancer clinical trials, and our role as the region’s only children’s hospital are among the many factors that make pediatric leukemia an obvious choice as one of our signature research programs.
Maximizing Safety in Radiation Medicine
A signature research program in radiation medicine would help us make proton therapy even safer and lead to more patients being free of cancer for the rest of their lives.
More than 25 years ago, we pioneered hospital-based proton therapy as a safer, more effective alternative to large area radiation treatment for cancer. For more than 20 years, our medical physicists have partnered with NASA to study the effects of radiation exposure on astronauts’ health. Our experiments have been included on five space flights and have been significant in defining radiation risks.
We have translated these findings into patient care, using them to help us adjust radiation dosing and make additional refinements to proton therapy delivery at our proton treatment center. Creating a signature research program that builds on our work with NASA and on our leadership in radiation medicine would lead to better and more effective treatment methods and better patient outcomes.
Cancer Stem Cell Biology Research
This emerging field promises breakthroughs that will lead to fewer patients ever being told, "You have cancer," "Your cancer has spread," or "Your cancer has returned."
David Baylink, MD, one of the world’s leading experts on osteoporosis, has had stunning successes in cell-based therapeutics — including programming stem cells to help fractures heal 33% faster, regenerate bone in osteoporosis patients, and improve inflammatory bowel disease symptoms by 80% in just six days.
There is great potential for us to advance our understanding of cancer by building on our expertise in stem cell biology. Cancer stem cells drive cancer at every phase — prompting it to develop, to metastasize and to come back. A signature research program in this field could impact cancer prevention, treatment and control.
Population Sciences Research on Cancer
The Adventist Health Study series has so much more to reveal about how to keep from getting cancer.
For nearly 60 years, our groundbreaking wellness research has been capturing the attention of epidemiologists throughout the world. With 96,000 participants, the current Adventist Health Study is among the most comprehensive investigations of diet and cancer ever conducted.
Creating a signature oncology research program based on this seminal study series will vastly broaden medical science’s understanding of cancer, serve as the basis from which further translational work will emanate, and help extend not only life but wholeness.
Wholeness and Cancer
What we know about wholeness could help survivors thrive after cancer.
For research, our whole person paradigm means looking at diseases such as cancer in the larger context of the whole body, the environment, the population. It also means studying not only the factors that contribute to disease but also those that prevent sickness and promote wholeness. Our distinctive focus on “whole living” would make a signature research program on cancer survivorship unique among cancer centers.
Cancer survivorship is a new field that explores how to help cancer patients resume their normal lives after treatment. Treatment can leave physical and emotional side effects that keep survivors from fully returning to the quality of life they once enjoyed. Healthful living, together with natural remedies, may be the keys to living a whole life after cancer.
Shared Resource Facilities
- Institute for Genetics and Translational Genomics
- Biospecimen Repository
- Center for Imaging Research
- Flow Cytometry Core
- Advanced Imaging and Microscopy Core
- Particle Therapy Core
- Animal Care Facility Core
- Bioinformatics Core*
- Patient-derived Xenograft Core*
* in development
"Join me in congratulating Loma Linda University Cancer Center on its recognition as a NCI HPS, and thank someone near you who has participated in a cancer clinical trial. Without realizing it, they have done something that will save your life in the future."