University of Pittsburgh
May 22, 2001


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, May 23 -- Promising, innovative research at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) will be supported through the new PNC Foundation Innovation Award, it was announced today.

"Often, it is the medical researcher who is the guide to the next great discovery. With adequate financial support, he or she is able to freely explore the challenging questions that can lead to important results," said Sy Holzer, president, PNC Bank, Pittsburgh, and chairman of the UPCI Council. "The PNC Foundation Innovation Award will provide support for highly novel research projects and help the UPCI to build on its reputation as a leader in research to advance cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment."

The Innovation Award consists of a $150,000 grant to be divided over the next three years and awarded to a different individual "investigator" or team of investigators at the UPCI, said Mia Hallett, vice president and manager of The PNC Foundation. This grant continues PNC's ongoing support of the UPCI. In 1999, a five-year grant established the PNC Molecular Oncology Laboratory at the Hillman Cancer Center.

Search for a Cure

Dr. Ronald Herberman, director of the UPCI, expressed the University's gratitude for the PNC Foundation's support. "The PNC Foundation Innovation Award program will be a valuable resource for the UPCI," he said. "Through this award, cancer research that is promising, high quality, and cutting-edge can be promoted, thus helping to strengthen our overall research programs and ultimately bringing us closer to finding a cure for this disease.

"If we do not pursue these promising ideas now, we delay finding the best treatment for melanoma, the most effective prevention strategy for breast cancer, or the most accurate diagnostic tool for lung cancer," he added.

Herberman continued: "There is clearly a need for 'seed money' support that will help bright, creative investigators to fully explore their hypotheses and build credibility for their innovative work -- by refining ideas, gathering data, and publishing results. This support from the PNC Foundation is an important investment that can leverage funding from the National Institutes of Health and other national sources such as the American Cancer Society."

Award Criteria

The first PNC Foundation Innovation Award is expected to be made this summer. Selection will be based on the following criteria:

- Innovation of the research and its perceived potential for advancing cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment (Priority will be given to a project that demonstrates a strategy for the conversion of laboratory findings into applications of potential clinical importance for patients)

- The quality of the researcher's prior scientific work and his or her current funding from other external or internal sources

- Long-term commitment to cancer research

The award recipients will be selected by a committee that includes: the UPCI director, one or more deputy directors, and several senior faculty members who represent a broad range of disciplines and expertise. In addition, a representative of the PNC Foundation will participate in the process.

About UPCI

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute was established in 1984 to be the central focus for all cancer research at the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and Carnegie Mellon University. The UPCI is actively involved in cancer care, cancer education, and community outreach. With the development and rapid growth of the UPMC Health System, the UPCI has the full responsibility and authority for all cancer-related activities throughout this very large integrated healthcare system.

About PNC

The PNC Foundation ranks among the largest corporate foundations in Pennsylvania. In 2000, more than $11 million in contributions by The PNC Foundation, along with almost 100,000 hours of employee volunteer time, executive leadership, and other skills and services, were combined to support important non-profit entities.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, is one of the nation's largest diversified financial services organizations, providing regional banking, corporate banking, real estate finance, asset-based lending, wealth management, asset management, and global fund services.