Sunday, February 04, 2001

Doctor leads cancer battle

Carter, husband started lab

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Cancer research has been a large part of Dr. Julia Carter's life, even long before her college days at Wellesley and Rutgers. A look at her family helps explain why.

        Mrs. Carter, who founded the Wood Hudson Cancer Research Laboratory 20 years ago with her husband, the late Dr. Harry Carter, said she and her husband each came from families of nine children.

        “Among our siblings and their spouses, 17 developed cancer,” she said.

        Her husband succumbed to cancer last April at age 67.

        In the 20 years since the lab's inauspicious beginnings — with only a microscope, an electric typewriter, a refrigerator and some rented space — Wood Hudson has grown to one of just 12 independent not-for-profit cancer research facilities in the country and the only one in Kentucky.

        The Carters started Wood Hudson Cancer Research Laboratory (named for their mothers) in 1981 in Cleveland, where Mr. Carter was director of laboratory medicine at St. Vincent Charity Hospital.

        Wood Hudson scientists have written papers on such discoveries in cancer research as:

        • The relationship between hormonal changes and types of breast cancer.

        • Genetic changes during stages of colon/rectal cancer.

        • Detecting the effects of cancer in normal cells.

        “Right now, we're looking at how normal cells near cancer cells change, as a possible early detection method of prostate cancer,” Mrs. Carter said.

        The Carters moved to Northern Kentucky when Mr. Carter became director of laboratory medicine at St. Elizabeth Medical Centers and an instructor at the University of Cincinnati.

        Initially they purchased a building on Greenup Street in Covington to house the laboratory. In 1990, Mrs. Carter and her husband learned from Laura Long, Newport's economic development director at the time, that the former Corpus Christi Church school and convent buildings on Isabella Street were available.

        “She helped us obtain the building and get low-interest bonds,” Mrs. Carter said. “Since then we've continued to grow into the building.”

        The two-story brick building contains seven laboratories, a tissue bank with more than 150,000 human tissue samples, a tumor registry, a library and offices.

        In addition to important research, Wood Hudson churns out cancer education. Mrs. Carter said Wood Hudson has fostered hands-on student training through the Undergraduate Research Education Program.

        “We have had about 135 students through the program in 20 years, many of whom are now doctors and scientists involved in medical research,” Mrs. Carter said. Students from Xavier University, Thomas More College, Northern Kentucky University and the College of Mount St. Joseph are working with Wood Hudson doctors on various projects.

        She is especially proud of the laboratory's expenditures for fund raising and information, which amount to only about 5 percent of total income from donations.

        “Most of our funding goes directly to research,” she said. “We are probably unique in that respect.”

        Among the major corporate and foundation donors to Wood Hudson are actor Paul Newman's charitable foundation, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the R.C. Durr Foundation, Delta Air Lines Employees, Cinergy Foundation and Heinz Foundation.

        Mrs. Carter, who serves as president of the nonprofit corporation, continues to work in the research labs at the facility. “I love research, but I hate administrative duties,” she said.


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