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The American Cancer Society estimates that about 30 percent of cancer deaths are tied to poor nutrition, lack of exercise and obesity. Now, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has won $8.2 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute to serve as a coordinating hub to study the problem.

The program will be led by Mark Thornquist, principal staff scientist in the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division. In his role as coordinator, Thornquist will oversee research taking place at four institutions: Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of California, San Diego and Washington University in St. Louis

“By approaching the problem from many directions and collaborating across studies we hope to make scientific progress faster than more narrowly focused research,” Thornquist said. “The coordinating center helps to tie all of these researchers together and enable us to collaborate more effectively.”

The National Cancer Institute dubs the program TREC, which stands for The Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer initiative, called TREC. It is allocating $45 million over the next five years the program.

“NCI is very concerned about the epidemic of obesity and its implications for cancer,” said Robert Croyle, Ph.D., director of the NCI’s division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. “This investment reflects the urgency of the problem and the need to accelerate scientific progress to inform cancer-control strategies.”


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