NEW BRUNSWICK — Boasting the highest level of scientific evidence, and the ability to translate research discoveries into novel treatments, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey has been awarded a multi-million dollar grant as part of its 2019 designation as the state's only Comprehensive Cancer Center.

A thorough on-site review of Rutgers Cancer Institute programs was conducted by the National Cancer Institute in order to renew the designation, which is held by only 50 centers across the nation (some states have more than one).

"What it means to us is the ability to continue to build one of the robust research and clinical enterprises in the country," said Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Steven Libutti. "The patients in New Jersey can have confidence that outstanding cancer care and outstanding cancer research is happening right here in New Jersey, and they can stay close to home to get that level of care."

Libutti said the $15.1 million grant serves as a further investment into cutting-edge cancer care and research.

Dr. Steven Libutti, director of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, speaks at an event in honor of the Institute's redesignation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. (RCINJ)

Centers compete for designation every five years. Libutti said it took about a year and a half to prepare the grant application and prepare for the site visit.

"A focus on innovation and collaboration in life-sciences will change New Jersey and the nation for the better, something exemplified by the redesignation of Rutgers Cancer Institute as the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center," said Gov. Phil Murphy, who attended the official announcement on Tuesday.

In its review, the NCI recognized the Institute's treatment, prevention, education and outreach efforts, and acknowledged its valuable role in a long-time collaboration with Princeton University.

According to the Institute, the partnership is responsible for scientific advances that have contributed to impactful clinical progress in the areas of precision medicine and immunotherapy.

"The synergy between Rutgers Cancer Institute and Princeton University continues to result in innovative discoveries that further our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of cancer and identify key vulnerabilities that can be exploited for targeted cancer therapy," said Princeton University Dean for Research Pablo G. Debenedetti.

NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers are also responsible for programs emphasizing cancer education and prevention. NCI's review recognized the Institute's important work in cancer control throughout New Jersey.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.