Overview

The Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center in the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute is a world-class research facility dedicated to discovering curative therapies for cancer patients. Located within Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Ore., our main area of investigation is cancer immunotherapy, a specialized field of study focused on triggering the immune system to fight cancer.

Established to promote translational research, Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., leads a team of internationally-recognized scientists toward making novel discoveries at the laboratory bench  in collaboration with our expert clinical investigative teams to “translate” those discoveries into new treatments for cancer patients at Providence and beyond. 

The Earle A. Chiles Research Institute was created in 1987 through a collaboration between the Chiles Foundation and Providence Health & Services. Cancer research was established as a major focus in 1993 and has flourished because of the generosity of Robert W. Franz and Elsie Franz Finley, benefactors of the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center created in 1996. Today, we garner more than $2 million annually in federal grants with a research staff of 75. 

We are a member of the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s International Immuno-Oncology Network. The institute houses a suite of class-10,000 cancer research laboratories that are GMP-capable and fully equipped to process and prepare autologous and allogeneic tumor vaccines and to process and expand PBMC and T-cells.

At Providence Cancer Center, our patients have access to clinical trial drugs and cancer therapies. Our research has led us to test vaccines in patients with cancers of the brain, lung, prostate, kidney, breast, and skin, and to discover breakthrough combination therapies integrating medical, surgical and radiation oncology with immunotherapy. Patients at Providence also have access to a broad range of government-sponsored clinical trials via the Western Oncology Research Consortium and trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.

All clinical trials are supported by teams of physicians, nurses and other cancer specialists who have up-to-the-minute knowledge of the latest treatment options for a variety of cancers. When new treatments prove more effective than standard therapies, patients who participate in clinical trials are among the first to benefit. By working in close proximity to patients and to each other, Providence researchers, physicians and clinical trial staff enjoy a collaborative, patient-centered relationship that enhances both research and patient care.