The Oncobiology Program (Programa de Oncobiologia) of UFRJ’s Leopoldo de Meis Biochemical Institute has counted on support from the Cancer Foundation since 2005. Each year two graduate scholarships are offered and 15 research fellowships are awarded as well, in addition to funds invested in actions for health-care communication aimed at contributing to demystifying public perception about cancer.
By the end of 2014, the Cancer Foundation had invested around R$ 2.7 million in the Oncobiology Program. Most of this funding (R$ 1.5 million) was invested in scholarships and research. One of the projects involves construction of an auditorium for use in giving courses, lectures and symposia at the UFRJ Health Sciences Center.
The UFRJ Oncobiology Program is an inter-institutional organization that brings together groups of researchers from different entities in Rio de Janeiro. Besides UFRJ itself, there is INCA, the Rio de Janeiro Federal Rural University (UFFRJ), Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ) and Fiocruz.
Currently, there are 41 lines of research in progress, with dozens of projects in each one of them. Among those that began in 2014 there are groups involved in studies for identification of new therapeutic targets for control of mammary tumors and endometriosis lesions, protogenomic appraisal of the resection margin of patients with gastric cancer, etc. Continuing from past years are translational research into infant leukemia, a panel for appraisal of instability in the prospect for enhanced diagnosis, and a study devoted to clinical and experimental research on differentiated thyroid carcinomas, among others.
The UFRJ Oncobiology Program is made up of the Management, Research, Instruction, Symposia and Dissemination nuclei. The research groups supported are involved in the following lines of study: search for new markers in order to achieve more effective early diagnoses and/or prognoses for the various types of cancer; search for new treatments against cancer; comprehension of the action mechanisms of the various types of cancer, as well as risk and epidemiologic factors; and development of disclosure and prevention strategies.
Inasmuch as the program also features a Dissemination Nucleus, the projects do not exclusively use professional from the medical-scientific community. In 2013, for instance, the Dissemination Nucleus developed Acubens, a virtual museum on the playful side that broaches the thorny subject of cancer in a differentiated manner. The aim is to present to the public, especially youths, the risk factors associated with the disease, in order to encourage adoption of a healthy lifestyle, based on games, videos and comic book stories in virtual format.
Likewise in 2013, a survey was conducted by the Nucleus to gauge public perception of alcohol as a risk factor for cancer. With the results obtained, besides permitting comprehensive understanding on the subject, the Dissemination Nucleus launched an animated video in 2014 as part of the strategy of dealing with cancer among Brazil’s young populace.