University of Colorado Cancer Center is entering its first international agreement with National Taiwan University College of Medicine. The agreement includes the promotion of joint research, exchange of faculty members, exchange of students, exchange of research outcomes, academic publications and other academic information.The agreement with National Taiwan University was signed Friday by Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the CU Cancer Center and Richard D. Krugman, MD, dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It also was signed by Pan-Chyr Yang, MD, PhD, dean of the college of medicine at NTU, and Chih-Hsin James Yang, MD, PhD, of the university’s cancer research center.

The agreement reaffirms University of Colorado as an international player in the areas of cancer research and medical education.

Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, associate director of CU Cancer Center’s international program, says working internationally is quite an achievement. “Globalization is important in cancer research. Working with other countries may give us a better understanding of cancer and whether it appears differently in different countries and different regions of the world and whether it may be based on ethnicity.”

Hirsch used a sub-type of lung cancer as an example. In the United States, approximately 10 percent of lung cancer patients have tumors with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation. For those patients, an effective oral treatment is available. In Asia, between 40 to 50 percent of patients with lung cancer have the EGFR mutation. Scientists don’t know why the prevalence of EGFR mutation is higher in Asia, and partnerships like the one between CU Cancer Center and National Taiwan University may help reveal the answer to that question and others.

The agreement could lead to collaborations in many cancers, including lung, head and neck, gastrointestinal and liver cancers. “Asia is a significant contributor to the progress in cancer science. My area is lung cancer and we see many landmark studies coming out of Asia these days. We hope this agreement will be a platform for further collaborations,” says Hirsch.

Hirsch also believes the partnership with Taiwan will be good for cancer patients because each side can draw on the others expertise and resources. “We can learn from each other. And the collaboration could lead to faster, more efficient clinical trials that could more quickly lead to new and better cancer therapies.” Hirsch says.

The National Cancer Institute encourages international work. According to its website, the NCI’s goal is to “advance global cancer research, build expertise, and leverage resources across nations to address the challenges of cancer and reduce cancer deaths worldwide.”

CU in the City logo