The Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center will collaborate with the John Theurer Cancer Center of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey to form a cancer consortium through a joint clinical research program.
The idea for the partnership was developed in 2011 during a meeting between executives at the Lombardi Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in D.C., and the JTCC, the highest-ranked cancer center in New Jersey.
“It quickly became evident that significant potential synergies existed between the respective cancer centers,” Lombardi Center Director Louis Weiner, MD, wrote in an email to The Hoya. “These discussions led to a formal affiliation and a plan to create an NCI-approved consortium that unifies the research programs under the auspices of Lombardi’s NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation.”
The cancer centers will focus on four broad areas of cancer research and treatment, namely stem cell transplant research, the development of new cancer-treating drugs, immunotherapy and population science.
Weiner emphasized the benefits each cancer center can confer upon the others, highlighting shared expertise in a variety of clinical research areas.
“Lombardi and JTCC share interests and strengths in many areas of cancer care and research, such as gastrointestinal cancers, lung cancers and in harnessing the power of the immune system to attack and control cancers,” Weiner wrote. “Working together, we can accelerate progress and offer our patients tomorrow’s treatments today.”
Hackensack University President and CEO Robert Garrett agreed that both medical centers contribute particular strengths to their joint cancer research and treatment programs.
“Hackensack University Medical Center has always focused on excellence in patient care and investing in research and technology for the future,” Garrett said. “For this partnership, we are combining our strength in clinical care with Georgetown Lombardi’s strong research base that significantly contributes to its clinical excellence. By working together, we will elevate our cancer research to offer more treatment options for tomorrow’s patients.”
The timing of the partnership is ideal due to current innovations in the industry, according to the JTCC’s Division of Lymphoma Chief Andre Goy.
“Together, our institutions carry a tremendous opportunity to be transformative for our cancer patients’ population and beyond,” Goy said. “The timing of this joint effort could not be better given the definitely revolutionary changes occurring in cancer care. The chosen founding projects are well-positioned to take advantage of the synergy between our institutions and illustrate our commitment to discovering better care for the future.”
Through the partnership, the JTCC will achieve NCI designation once the consortium is approved by the NCI, which would allow the center to receive grants from the institute for cancer research.
“The JTCC will be a part of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center,” Weiner wrote. “The process for approval is quite rigorous and will require that we demonstrate meaningful research collaborations and accomplishments by the next time (2018) we submit our competitive Cancer Center Support Grant renewal to the NCI.”
Clinical Outcomes Tracking & Analysis Platform, a cancer patient treatment and outcomes database developed by the JTCC, will aid the centers in their partnership.
“COTA is able to extract deep and rich clinical and economic data from cancer patients’ medical records and history and organize the data so that clinical research at both institutions can be performed,” COTA CEO Eric Schultz and COTA Chief Medical Officer Stuart Goldberg wrote in an email.
Weiner stressed that COTA will assist both centers on all four of the broad research topics the centers plan to cover.
“COTA is a powerful ‘big data’ tool that ‘sorts’ patients into definable niches to rigorously identify patients who might benefit from defined therapies, to follow the outcomes of these patients and to examine the actual costs of care for these patients,” Weiner wrote. “It thus can support each of the four broad initiatives we have identified.”
COTA’s assistance will be particularly useful in the area of population science, according to Schultz and Goldberg.
“Building on the strengths of Georgetown’s population science division, COTA will facilitate the collection of data at both institutions to support several projects surrounding breast cancer diagnosis, physician attitudes toward genetic profiling, and a proposed collaborative project on financial toxicity from a patient’s perspective in hematologic malignancies,” Schultz and Goldberg wrote.
The formation of an NCI consortium will allow for advancements in cancer treatment that benefit patients of both hospitals, according to Weiner.
“As an NCI-designated consortium we will have the size and scope to effectively compete for access to the most exciting new treatment ideas and agents so that we can have maximum impact to benefit people living in our respective regions of service,” Weiner wrote.
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