Interview: Screening and treatment for colorectal cancer

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Franklin G Berger speaks to Theo Bond, Assistant Commissioning Editor: Dr Berger was raised in Buffalo (NY, USA) and attended the State University of NY at Buffalo, where he earned a BA in Biology and Chemistry in 1969. He then obtained a PhD degree in Biochemistry from Purdue University (IN, USA) in 1974. Following a short postdoctoral stint at Cornell University (NY, USA), Dr Berger accepted a position at Roswell Park Memorial Institute (NY, USA), where he began his career in cancer research. He moved to the University of South Carolina’s (USC) Department of Biological Sciences in 1986, and is now George H Bunch Sr Professor there. He was Chair of the department from 1996 until 2002, during which time he founded USC’s Center for Colon Cancer Research, an interdisciplinary research center involving over 30 scientists carrying out basic research focused on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC). Dr Berger’s awards include the SC Governor’s Award in Science (2005), the Distinguished Service Award from the SC Gastroenterology Association (2009) and a Laurel Award for Cancer Prevention from the Prevent Cancer Foundation (2012). In 2010, he was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr Berger’s research interests focus on understanding and overcoming tumor cell resistance to chemotherapy. His work has been supported by over US$30 million in grants, primarily from the NIH, and has resulted in approximately 115 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has trained over two dozen graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in his laboratory, many of whom have gone on to careers in scientific research and education. He has taught many courses at USC, spanning the range from freshman Biology to an advanced topics course on Cancer Biology. In addition to doing research, Dr Berger is actively engaged in community outreach activities relating to CRC. He has led efforts to develop awareness, education and screening programs across the state of South Carolina. These efforts have won funding from agencies such as the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of South Carolina, the South Carolina Government, the American Cancer Society and the Duke Foundation. He has formed partnerships with the South Carolina Gastroenterology Association, CVS Caremark and Blue Cross Blue Shield. As a consequence, South Carolina has rapidly become a national model for statewide advocacy efforts aimed at increasing screening rates and reducing the morbidity of CRC.

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