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Two Mercer Pharmaceutical Scientists Each Receive $50,000 Cancer Research Grants

February 3, 2011

Media Contact: David N. Hefner or or (678) 547-6244

ATLANTA – Two professors in Mercer University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences were recently awarded state cancer research grants to explore various methods of delivering anticancer drugs to patients.

Chalet Tan, Ph.D., and Hailing Zhang, Ph.D., both assistant professors of pharmaceutical sciences, were selected by the Georgia Cancer Coalition to be among 12 recipients of 2011 Cancer Research Awards. Tan and Zhang will receive $50,000 each toward research on encapsulating anticancer drugs in nanocarriers for drug delivery and targeting. These promising approaches will enable anticancer drugs to recognize cancerous cells and maximize their anticancer effects, while minimizing toxicities to normal cells of cancer patients. The grants are funded by Georgia residents who voluntarily donate to the Georgia Cancer Research Fund on their state income tax forms.

“Nano-sized drug delivery systems hold tremendous promise to transform the way cancers are being treated,” Dr. Tan said. “This award greatly encourages our team to continue designing novel nanocarriers for anticancer drugs. We hope our research will lead to safer and more efficacious cancer therapies.”

A committee of leading cancer researchers and clinicians conducted the competitive, peer-reviewed grant process. More than 70 proposals were received from researchers across Georgia. Cancer Research Awards often provide seed money for pilot studies that have the potential of attracting larger, more prestigious national grants.

“The research awards are an important investment in our state’s scientists,” said Bill Todd, president and chief executive officer of the Georgia Cancer Coalition. “With matching funds and potential for additional national funding, we are making a major contribution to cancer research in the future.”

H.W. “Ted” Matthews, dean of Mercer’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and vice president of health affairs at the University, said the grant awards affirm the fact that Mercer scientists are among the best in the state, adding that cancer research is one of the College’s top research priorities.

“I am quite pleased that Drs. Tan and Zhang were recognized in such a significant way by the Georgia Cancer Coalition,” Dean Matthews said. “This accomplishment brings recognition not only to these outstanding young researchers but also to our College. And for this, I am grateful.”

Since the 2000 inception of the State Income Tax Checkoff program, $2.75 million has been raised for cancer research, resulting in more than $5 million in cancer research funding, according to state officials. Seventy-three awards have been made possible by these contributions.

About the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Founded in 1903, the independent Southern School of Pharmacy merged with Mercer University in 1959. It became the first school in the Southeast to offer the Doctor of Pharmacy degree as its sole professional degree in 1981. In addition to the Doctor of Pharmacy, the College has one of the largest concentrations of Ph.D. students in pharmaceutics among colleges of pharmacy in the United States. In 2008, the College launched a Physician Assistant master’s degree program and last year it started a Doctor of Physical Therapy program.