SOURCE: H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

December 18, 2006 13:40 ET

Moffitt Announces New Research Initiative and Collaboration With Merck

TAMPA, FL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 18, 2006 --H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute announced today that it will partner with Merck & Co., Inc., through a Merck affiliate, to expand its efforts in research and biotech with the goal of developing personalized medicine. This collaboration will develop a new research initiative to improve cancer prevention and treatment by using molecular technology to enhance the ability to diagnose and treat patients. This collaboration involves creating partnerships among patients, community providers, industry, government and many others to personalize and improve cancer care.

"With the support of the state and the community, Moffitt has grown to be one of the largest and most dynamic cancer centers with a plan to advance scientific and medical discoveries," said Dr. William Dalton, Moffitt CEO and Center Director. "We are pleased that industry partners like Merck recognize our research contribution and is investing with us to help develop personalized medicine."

While there have been great strides in treating cancer in the last decade, doctors know that not every patient responds to current treatments in the same way. This multi-site project will involve the collection of tumor tissues and clinical data from thousands of patients in Florida. Using sophisticated technology, Moffitt and Merck will analyze patients' tumors to identify the genetic 'fingerprints' or the biological markers that are unique to those tumors. By studying and comparing patients' responses to specific treatments, scientists hope to learn which drugs work best in different patients, enabling them to individualize treatment for patients with various types of cancer. This approach will enhance the likelihood of patient improvement and reduce side-effects and is called "personalized medicine."

To enhance Moffitt's ability to establish this large research initiative the cancer center will form a for-profit company, M2GEN, to be located in Hillsborough County. The state of Florida, Hillsborough County and City of Tampa, are providing economic incentives to bring this biotechnology effort to Florida.

"It is appropriate that Moffitt, now marking its 20th anniversary, is being recognized as the state's flagship center for cancer research, worthy of a multi-million dollar investment in the future," said Dalton. "Without a collaborative effort, putting this unique partnership together would not have been possible."

This research initiative is also expected to draw new high paying jobs to Florida as well as serve as a magnet for other companies to help create a robust biotechnology industry in the Tampa Bay area.

"This groundbreaking partnership will lead to the discovery and development of new diagnostics and cancer drugs as well as the creation of new biomedical companies in our state," said Governor Bush. "This is a milestone day for Florida, not only in terms of strengthening the state's reputation as a hub for world-class biomedical research, but also in terms of our ability to propel scientific discovery that will save lives. Florida is a state of innovation and our people and expertise are among the most entrepreneurial in the world."

It is the hope that through more public-private partnerships like this one that more rapid advancements will be made in discovery, translation and delivery of new personalized therapies for cancer and other diseases.

"Moffitt will be a valuable partner as we move forward in our efforts to develop and deliver personalized cancer care," said Dr. Stephen Friend, executive vice president and franchise head, Oncology and Neuroscience, at Merck. "It is through public-private partnerships like this one that we believe we can advance the discovery, translation and delivery of much-needed personalized therapies for cancer and other diseases."

About H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

Located in Tampa, Florida on the University of South Florida campus, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute ( is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 16 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country's leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America's Best Hospitals for cancer. Moffitt's sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

About Merck

Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The Company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit

Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:
    Laura Guitar
    Email Contact
    (407) 616-1863