The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded a $12.5 million grant to Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF), Gundersen Medical Foundation and St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center in Green Bay to expand their clinical cancer research over the next five years.
The grant, part of NCI's newly-formed National Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), was announced in conjunction with 52 additional NCORP grants that support cancer research nationwide.
The three health care organizations, working as WiNCORP, will build upon their collaborative relationship, working closely together to improve access to cancer trials for more patients, as they target some of the biggest questions in cancer research.
"The award demonstrates the National Cancer Institute's faith in our ability to continue strong enrollment of cancer patients in clinical trials to ensure they receive state-of-the-art oncology care," said Dr. Douglas Reding, MCRF oncology research director. "Working with our partners, we'll provide greater access to trials in the communities we serve."
MCRF, Gundersen and St. Vincent have a long history of successful clinical cancer research. MCRF has about 150 active clinical cancer research trials at any given time; Gundersen enrolls about 188 patients each year in cancer trials and has approximately 100 open trials. St. Vincent has about 120 open trials, and enrolls about 200 patients each year.
"Over the years, we have been blessed to see some of the treatments studied in clinical trials ultimately change practice," said Dr. Anthony Jaslowski, principal investigator for St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center. "We could not do this without oncology and hematology patients, who selflessly allow us to collect additional data to ensure safety and efficacy of new or combined treatments and therapies, which is then submitted to the FDA for approval. We have a great team and can see great synergy developing with Marshfield and Gundersen. Together, we hope to offer leading-edge research opportunities to our patients throughout the majority of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula."
Each organization worked previously with NCI as part of its Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), which preceded NCORP. MCRF joined CCOP when the program launched in 1983. St. Vincent and Gundersen joined the network in 2002 and 2011, respectively.
"This is a great opportunity for Gundersen Health System to stay on the cutting edge of cancer research. We'll continue to provide our patients access to NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials, while removing barriers to participation for our rural population," said Dr. Kurt Oettel, Gundersen medical oncologist. "Our collaborative partnership with Marshfield Clinic and St. Vincent has a rich history in successful clinical trial accrual."
NCORP is a national network of investigators, cancer care providers, academic institutions and other organizations that provide care to diverse populations in community-based health care practices across the United States. The program's total funding is $93 million a year for five years.
According to Dr. Worta McCaskill-Stevens, NCORP director, the creation of NCORP allows NCI to take advantage of recent advances in the understanding of cancer and bring this new knowledge into clinical trials conducted in the community, where most patients receive their care.
NCORP will design and conduct trials to improve cancer prevention, cancer control, screening, and post-treatment management. The new program will have an expanded portfolio of clinical trials and other studies, including an emphasis on cancer care delivery research.
About Gundersen Medical Foundation
For 70 years, Gundersen Medical Foundation, based in La Crosse, Wis., has connected supporters with an interest we all share – the health and well-being of our community. Through the Foundation, Gundersen is able to evolve and innovate to stay at the forefront of patient care. The Foundation sponsors a major medical education program, multi-faceted research efforts and outreach activities to improve community health.
About Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation
Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF), a division of Marshfield Clinic, was founded in 1959. It's the largest private medical research institute in Wisconsin. MCRF consists of research centers in clinical research, agricultural health and safety, epidemiology, human genetics, and biomedical informatics. Marshfield Clinic investigators publish extensively in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals addressing a wide range of diseases and other health issues, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, eye disease, neurological disease, pediatrics, radiology, women's health, agricultural safety and genetics.
About St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center
St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center includes the largest group of oncologists in Northeast Wisconsin and provides patients access to state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment technologies, as well as multiple supportive therapies at St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center and St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay. The program has documented survival rates that meet or exceed cancer centers across the nation. It partners with community hospitals throughout Northeast Wisconsin through the St. Vincent Cancer Care Collaborative to offer patients quality, compassionate care closer to home. St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center has been accredited by the Commission on Cancer for more than 55 years - recognized as an Integrated Network Cancer program – the highest level of accreditation possible for a non-teaching hospital. With decades of experience and a passion to provide patients the best care possible, St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center works directly with the National Cancer Institute to bring people in the Northeast Wisconsin region access to the newest, leading-edge cancer clinical trials, drugs and prevention studies.