Advocate Aurora Health has been awarded a 6-year, $10.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to clinical research. They currently operate clinical trials at 18 Aurora clinic locations and will be offering 14 legacy Advocate sites with the new funding. The grant builds on the research Aurora has conducted through an initial 5-year, $4.6 million, NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant, which began in 2014 and ran through July 2019.
NCORP seeks to make cancer trials accessible in community-based clinics rather than research centers, reports BizTimes Milwaukee.
What is the Extent of Aurora’s NCI-funded Clinical Trials?
Aurora has opened 78 NCI clinical trials across 18 existing cancer clinics in eastern Wisconsin. They have enrolled more than 1,200 participants. The clinical trial therapeutic areas within cancer include brain, breast, lung and prostate, as well as for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
How Important are Community-based Cancer Trials?
Very important. Dr. Amy Beres, an oncology research director for the Aurora Research Institute reports, “It’s been really important because, without access to clinical trials in those community settings, patients have to travel to major research institutes, which tend to be in the big cities.” She continued, “And as you can imagine, for a cancer patient to be able to stay close to home during their treatment usually leads to better outcomes because they’re close to home and they follow up with the care and are often more willing to enroll in clinical trials because they don’t have to travel as often.”
Dr. Thomas Saphner, Aurora Health Care co-principal investigator notes “NCORP is a critical, federally funded program that allows for our health system to bring cancer clinical trials to people in their own communities instead of restricting them to major research institutions.
What does the New NCI Grant Contribute to?
The health system will continue operating clinical trials at the existing sites and expand to 13 Advocate clinics across northern Illinois. The new sites include Advocate Children’s Hospital’s two main campuses, which will allow the health system to participate in pediatric clinical trials. Aurora does not have a pediatric site in its Wisconsin Network.
How Long is the Grant?
It is the largest ever research award received by the NCI. It lasts till 2025.
What is the Importance of Aurora Health Systems?
The NCI emphasizes this approach of distributing clinical trials into community centers. Aurora has historically done well in Wisconsin—seeing more than 8,000 new cancer patients a year, and that number is slight higher in Illinois. Together, they are at about 18,000 new cancer cases per year. This represents a significant patient base.
Dr. Amy Beres, an oncology research director for the Aurora Research Institute
Dr. Thomas Saphner, Aurora Health Care co-principal investigator