Aurora Health Care Awarded $3.8 Million for National Cancer Research Program

July 31, 2014

MilwaukeeAurora Health Care was selected for the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program, or NCORP. Aurora will receive $3.8 million in federal funding over five years to improve cancer research and expand patient access to clinical trials in Wisconsin.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today notified approximately 40 health care organizations it felt are best equipped to engage the community in oncology clinical trials.

NCORP builds on NCI's existing cancer research networks to increase the number and scope of available clinical trials. By providing more Wisconsin patients access to additional treatment options, Aurora will improve cancer care locally while contributing to the larger national effort.

NCORP Community Sites aim to increase patient accrual to NCI-sponsored clinical trials by connecting individuals to cancer research taking place in their own communities. It also expands research into how cancer care is delivered.

The Aurora Research Institute and Aurora Cancer Care programs will implement this research initiative throughout Aurora's extensive footprint.

"Patients benefit when health care providers from private, not-for-profit and government sectors work together to improve care," said Nick Turkal, MD, president and CEO of Aurora Health Care. "Aurora's research and cancer teams are dedicated to advancing health care every day. The NCORP award, coupled with our talented care team, promise to make a difference for cancer patients across the nation."

Up to 40 organizations across the country were selected to receive an NCORP award. In addition to traditional studies of cancer treatment, symptom control and prevention, successful applicants had to demonstrate the ability to implement cancer care delivery research. This component is designed to determine the best use of resources in cancer care.

"Aurora's commitment to research is what made us an attractive site to NCI," said Randall Lambrecht, PhD, president of Aurora Research Institute. "The extensive team resources of Aurora Research Institute and Aurora Cancer Care will be used to engage the community in cohesive clinical trials and cancer research programs using the NCORP template."

James Weese, MD, vice president of Aurora Cancer Care, added, "It is important that we continue to give our patients the best care possible while advancing the fight against cancer. The NCORP program has a similar focus, while fighting to help take costs out of health care."

Principal investigators Thomas Saphner, MD, FACP, and Michael Thompson, MD, PhD, are spearheading the NCORP initiative, focusing on care delivery, prevention and patient recruitment.

"Currently, there is a gap between when treatments or techniques are known to be successful and when they are incorporated as a standard of care," Saphner said. "A primary goal of our work on this project will be to narrow this gap."

National accrual to adult cancer trials is less than five percent. According to Thompson, patient access to trials is a major hurdle, but Aurora's wide reach will allow increased access for approximately 60 percent of Wisconsin's population.

"We want the right therapy delivered to the right patient at the right location – close to home," Thompson said.

Aurora Cancer Care, a nationally accredited cancer program with 65 oncology fellowship-trained specialists on hand, cares for more than 6,600 newly diagnosed cancer patients annually, more than any other health care system in Wisconsin.

Aurora Research Institute fosters the patient-centered research – including 400 active clinical trials – conducted throughout Aurora. This integration results in more treatment options to patients and, ultimately, improved patient outcomes.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin-area health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Aurora is Wisconsin's most comprehensive health care provider and the state's largest private employer. Aurora serves more than 1.2 million patients every year via a comprehensive network of facilities, services and providers, including 15 hospitals, 159 clinics, 70 pharmacies and 30,000 amazing Caregivers. As evidenced by more than 400 active clinical trials, Aurora is dedicated to delivering innovations to provide the best possible care today, and to define the best care for tomorrow. Get helpful health and wellness information via the Aurora MyHealth blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter account and our Pinterest account.

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Adam Beeson

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