October 1, 2020: Excerpt reposted with permission from the Erie Times-News.

The Big Ten is best known for football.

But in 2013, member universities teamed to collaborate rather than compete, in cancer research.

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium, based at the Hoosier Cancer Research Network in Indianapolis, Ind., helps researchers at 15 universities work together to fight cancer. The consortium includes the Penn State Cancer Institute, Rutgers University Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“The idea was to get all those football colleges and cancer institutes together to build a forum so that people from member institutions can conduct collaborative research and clinical trials,” said Monika Joshi, MD, who represents the Penn State Cancer Institute, located in Hershey, on the Big Ten CRC steering committee.

“Research ideas are nurtured in working groups in which experts provide insights to design scientific and clinical trials. The consortium gives us access not only to experts in our field from different institutions, but also an immense amount of power from the Big Ten CRC administrative group,” Joshi said.

Joshi is a member of the organization’s working group in her research specialty, genitourinary tumors, or kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and other cancers of the genital and urinary tracts.

“(The working groups) give us the opportunity to have our investigations mentored by someone at our same institution or across institutions,” Joshi said.

“It also provides a larger pool of patients. You can have a research idea, but if you don’t have access to a large enough patient population, a clinical trial could take many years,” she said.

Clinical trials test a potential treatment. A certain number of patients are needed to participate in a trial so reactions and results can be compared.

Collaborations such as the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium help researchers find the participants they need to test the effectiveness of a drug or other treatment.

Additional collaborations provide additional expertise and resources. The Penn State Cancer Institute, for example, is part of a number of collaborative teams in addition to the Big Ten.

Read the full Erie Times-News story by Valerie Myers.


About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.