SUNY Downstate’s Dr. Stacy Blain Participates in Project Tackling Cancer Complexity

Apr 6, 2016

Brooklyn, NY – Stacy Blain, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and of cell biology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, was selected to join more than 180 cancer researchers from prominent research institutions in 31 countries in a project to tackle cancer’s complexity.  The initiative is called “The Halifax Project” and involves two separate task forces.  One task force evaluated what has been learned about cancer’s complexity to design an entirely new approach to therapy, while the other assessed whether or not everyday exposures to mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals have a role to play in cancer causation.
This collaborative international initiative was led by a Non-Governmental Organization called “Getting to Know Cancer”, and within the project, Dr. Blain worked on one of 12 cross-functional teams of scientists that each focused on a different aspect of cancer biology.  The teams spent two years reviewing what is known about cancer’s complexity to design a ground-breaking “broad-spectrum” therapeutic approach that will be aimed at many prioritized targets simultaneously.

“The goal of this project was to create a priority list for the most promising targets for future therapy development. This is even more critical now in an area of reduced funding, where we, as an entire cancer research field, must be working on the very best targets. This task force provided an opportunity to evaluate our field, beyond that which occurs at a late stage in grant review offices, and this work will hopefully focus our research efforts in the future,” said Dr. Blain. 

“For far too long, our mainstream model for treating cancer has been erroneously focused on mostly single intervention strategies,” said Keith I. Block, MD, the medical and scientific director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, Illinois. “For the past several decades it was felt that if the Achilles heel of the disease could be discovered, a treatment could be found that would eradicate the one underlying defect responsible for promoting and driving malignant disease.  However, we have since learned that cancer is a far more complex disorder with not one, but multiple defects. To overcome these defects – and be genuinely successful – an innovative, multi-pronged and multi-targeted approach to treatment is essential.

“While we have worked quietly over many years on growing this multi-dimensional treatment model, the ‘Halifax Project’ represents the first global initiative that involves the collaboration of a large number of the very best cancer scientists and researchers from around the world. Our team’s objective is to further evolve a comprehensive treatment model with less toxic and more innovative therapies, with the ultimate goal of eradicating cancer,” Block said.
For more information on this project, including a link to information on research published in the journal, Seminars in Cancer Biology, please visit Getting to Know Cancer’s website at .



About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.