Big Ten Cancer Connection: How universities are working together to fight cancer

NOW: Big Ten Cancer Connection: How universities are working together to fight cancer

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – As Big Ten rivals battle it out on the field this fall, researchers from the schools are coming together to fight cancer.

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is a clinical cancer trial network. University of Wisconsin-Madison is a proud participant.

“We’re all very happy to work together,” UW-Madison Professor of Medicine Dr. Ruth O’Regan said.

O’Regan says she’s always cheering on the Badgers, but when it comes to her work, collaboration is key.

“I’m currently leading a trial on breast cancer where we’re leading it but we’re also recruiting patients from Michigan State, Penn State, University of Illinois and University of Nebraska,” she said.

In addition to her role at UW-Madison, O’Regan is the chief scientific officer of the Big Ten CRC.

Through the consortium, researchers are able to recruit patients from all around the Midwest, speeding up the trial time, leading to faster answers.

“One of the key things that we’re doing here is not just doing the trial to find out if a drug is effective or not but work out exactly why it’s effective in some patients versus not in other patients,” she said.

Big Ten CRC was formed in 2013. Doctors meet by teleconference several times a year depending on the type of cancer they are studying. Once a year, they all meet in person for a summit.

Since its beginning, leaders say they’ve made great progress, especially in kidney and lung cancers.

“Some of our trials, what we’re seeing is these patients are outliving our expectations,” Christopher Fausel said of the Big Ten CRC.

Right now, there are around 15 active trials on several different types of cancer. The Big Ten CRC doesn’t know of any other similar collaborations among athletic conferences across the nation.

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