Community Support Helps Center for Cancer Research Grow
The Anderson University Center for Cancer Research works tirelessly in their research of cancer treatments and causes, all with a focus on community outreach and education.
Dr. Diana Ivankovic, director of the Center for Cancer Research and herself a breast cancer survivor, says at any given time there’s a lot going on in terms of learning about new ways to treat various cancers.
“We have hands-on bench research going on. We screen different types of Mediterranean plants for anticarcinogenic properties,” said Dr. Ivankovic. “We’re working with many different types of cell lines. We’re working with breast cancer cell lines—either primary tumors or metastatic (spreading). We also work with other cell lines. I have, for example, a student who is going to vet school; he works on dog cell lines. We work on rat cell lines. We work on many other ones. But I’m mostly focused on breast cancer research.”
In addition to the Center for Cancer Research being a 2022 A Day cause, there has been generous community support, including annual funding by the All In Foundation. Dr. Ellis Kline, Dr. Ivankovic’s former professor, along with his wife, Dr. Priscilla Kline, donated numerous pieces of equipment from his laboratory. Most recently, a fundraiser organized by Carolina Automotive Auctions, featuring legendary ESPN commentator Chris Fowler as keynote speaker, resulted in a significant gift.
The Center for Cancer Research strives to equip itself with state-of-the-art equipment. Specific goals for the center include the addition of an additional new tissue culture hood—hoods help create a sterile environment for working with cancer cells—more incubators, and other additional smaller equipment that will aid in research efforts.”
Studies by the Center for Cancer Research have received recognition and support from South Carolina's scientific community for research. Research from the Center has been published in academic journals and presented at scientific conferences in South Carolina. In addition, students who have worked at the Center for Cancer Research have become physicians and continued their research careers.
Dr. Ivankovic published a textbook titled Principles of Cell Biology, in collaboration with a colleague from Harvard. The textbook has been adopted at institutions around the world and is used in medical schools across Japan.
Beginnings and Growth
As a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Ivankovic has been conducting cancer research at Anderson University since 2004. For the first few years, they traveled to a nearby institution’s lab for the research. Then a cancer research room was set up at Anderson University, bringing the research on campus.
Dr. Danny Parker, former Anderson University provost, encouraged Dr. Ivankovic to pursue a whole building that would be dedicated to cancer research. In 2011, the Center for Cancer Research opened in its new home, a building furnished by AnMed Health. The facility at 813 North Fant Street is less than a mile from campus.
As the work of the Center progresses, Dr. Ivankovic envisions acquiring more equipment and making additional improvements within the building.
Of course, cancer research is not without its challenges.
“People who are not knowledgeable about cancer ask me ‘will you find the cure?’ They don’t understand there’s no one cure for one cancer. There are thousands of cancers. There are so many variations and there are so many different cures, and every human reacts differently,” Dr. Ivankovic said. “I always tell students and even in the textbook I wrote, ‘in the medical field there is no black and white, there are shades of gray. One plus one does not equal two every time; there are always exceptions to the rule.’ So if we can just make a contribution towards a cure, that would make me very happy.”
Dr. Ivankovic is joined by Assistant Director Dr. Andy Norris, a biochemist, and other Anderson faculty in the fields of chemistry and biology. “Eight to 10 students are selected to work alongside faculty in cancer research each semester as student Cancer Center Scholars, while a few students—the highest academic achievers—are selected as Cancer Fellows.
“Cancer Fellows help me teach new Cancer Scholars and other research students,” said Dr. Ivankovic. “They keep cells alive, feed them, propagate them, organize supplies at the Center for Cancer Research, make new plant extracts and jump in whenever and wherever they are most needed.”
Details about AU's Center for Cancer Research can be found online.
Dr. Diana Ivankovic, director of the Anderson University Center for Cancer Research, with ESPN commentator Chris Fowler, who was keynote speaker at a recent fundraiser that benefited the center.