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March 8, 2001

Penn Cancer Center's "OncoLink" Selected as Clinical Research Clearinghouse for the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance

(Philadelphia, PA) - OncoLink, the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center's award-winning web site has been selected by the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) to serve as its clinical trials resource center, created to facilitate increased participation in colorectal cancer clinical trials.

"We have made significant gains in understanding the science of colorectal cancer in recent years," explains John Glick, MD, Director, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center. "This initiative with the NCCRA will speed up the process of discovering new ways to prevent and treat this potentially devastating form of cancer by making it easy for interested individuals and families to enter scientifically important clinical trials."

Joining forces, OncoLink and the NCCRA will launch a year-long national call to action to fight colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 60,000 people each year.

"Our hope is to advance leading-edge research and reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer," says Katie Couric, co-founder of NCCRA. "As a leading cancer information web site, OncoLink is the perfect partner. We've been tremendously impressed with what OncoLink has been able to do and we are fortunate to have a senior scientist from the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center on the NCCRA's eight-person medical advisory board." OncoLink has added new features to its colorectal cancer section, including a simple survey that people can use to indicate their interest in participating in clinical trials approved by the NCCRA medical advisory board.

OncoLink visitors may also ask questions and get answers from colorectal cancer experts. The NCCRA call center at the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center offers the same resources for people who do not have Internet access. Callers can complete the survey and get their questions about colorectal cancer answered by talking to a call center representative at 1-866-724-4100.

According to Anil Rustgi, MD, Director of Gastrointestinal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center and a member of NCCRA's medical advisory board, the NCCRA has uncovered one of the leading impediments to advancing colorectal cancer research - the time it takes to enroll enough eligible participants in clinical trials.

"Clinical trials help us answer critical scientific questions about family susceptibility and the effectiveness of pharmaceutical agents in preventing or treating cancer," explains Dr. Rustgi, who is also Principal Investigator for one of the priority trials that will benefit from the new clearinghouse. "Through our website and call center, we will be able to provide critical information about colorectal cancer and give people an easy way to find out about leading-edge research that could help save lives.even in their own families."

NCCRA-approved trials will initially focus on the susceptibility of families to colorectal cancer and on studies that test the effectiveness of agents in preventing this type of cancer. In the months ahead, the range of approved trials will expand into a select number of treatment trials.

The senior researchers for trials approved by the NCCRA will contact people who have registered and who match the criteria of their study, to see if they are interested in participating in a particular trial.

The NCCRA is dedicated to the eradication of colon cancer by harnessing the power of celebrity to promote education, fundraising, research and early medical screening. The National Colorectal Research Alliance was co-founded by Katie Couric, Lilly Tartikoff, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a California-based 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.

OncoLink was founded in 1994 by the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center to help cancer patients, families, health care professionals and the general public get timely, accurate cancer-related information. OncoLink makes it easy to obtain the latest information about cancer, including each type of cancer, treatments and research advances. Information is continuously updated and is written at various levels, from introductory to in-depth. OncoLink has consistently been one of the most popular cancer websites, receiving numerous media awards and citations as a comprehensive, trusted cancer resource for patients, physicians and researchers.

The NCCRA initiative with OncoLink is supported by a grant to the NCCRA from Pharmacia Oncology and Pfizer, Inc.

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