Temple Times Online Edition
    FEBRUARY 16, 2006
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House Speaker Perzel presents $1.5M for cancer research

Antonio Giordano, president of the Sbarro Health Research Organization and director of the Sbarro Institute (left), shakes hands with state House Speaker John M. Perzel after receiving a $1.5 million gift toward cancer research.

State House Speaker John M. Perzel (R-Philadelphia) visited Temple on Feb. 2 to present $1.5 million to the Sbarro Health Research Organization, which will help fund lung, ovarian and breast cancer research programs in the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine in the College of Science and Technology.

“I want to truly thank Speaker Perzel,” said Antonio Giordano, president of SHRO and director of the Sbarro Institute, as he welcomed Perzel to the institute, located on the third floor of the Biology-Life Sciences Building.

“His past contributions to our program over the past year have been vital in the growth of the Sbarro Health Research Organization.

“SHRO, through Speaker Perzel, has doubled its productivity,” added Giordano, who is also director of Temple’s Center for Biotechnology. “We were able to generate five new technologies that will lead to new methods to diagnose lung and ovarian cancer, and to speed up our translation of this work into clinical studies.”

Giordano said many oncologists are reluctant to work on lung cancer research in part because the disease is so difficult to diagnose.

“We have undertaken this research to challenge ourselves,” he said. “And we are performing more and more of this difficult research with the help of Speaker Perzel.”

“When my wife and I went on vacation to Italy last summer, we had the opportunity to visit the SHRO labs in Siena and to view the remarkable the work you are doing,” Perzel said in making the presentation to Giordano. “I was impressed with everything I saw there.

“Our visit gave me a good understanding of your work,” Perzel added. “After seeing the labs, I was proud to be able to help your research.”

After the presentation, Perzel toured the Sbarro Institute with Giordano and Kenneth Soprano, vice president for research and graduate studies. Perzel was shown examples of how introducing Rb2/p130, a tumor-suppressing gene discovered by Giordano in the early 1990s, into cancer cells results in a dramatic reduction in size of tumors.

“I certainly want to thank the speaker for his generosity on behalf of the entire University,” Soprano said. “Although the gift is to the Sbarro Health Research Organization, a great deal of it will be used to enhance the research experience here at Temple.”

Soprano talked with Perzel about additional funding that Temple receives from the state of Pennsylvania in support of research, including between $2 million and $2.5 million a year from the tobacco settlement funds, which has used to fund approximately 80 projects at the University over the past four years.

“That tobacco settlement funding is really very critical in assisting researchers to generate preliminary data that they can use to go out and apply for additional funding from organizations like the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and American Cancer Society,” he said.

The Sbarro Health Research Organization funds more than 200 scientists worldwide, with more than 50 involved in ongoing research projects in the Sbarro Institute at Temple.

- By Preston M. Moretz