Wake Forest Receives $25M NCI NCORP Grant for Clinical Research as a Care Option

The school’s motto is Pro Humanitate, which is Latin meaning for humanity! And that is what this venerable south eastern institution will do for the community’s health as they received a six-year, $25 million grant from the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). This multimillion-dollar grant represents the second time in five years the venerable institution has participated in this program.

One of a Few

One of only seven awarded in the country, the grant is designed to focus on extending ongoing clinical research in cardiovascular and neurocognitive complications of cancer treatments and on improving patient well-being during cancer care.

Clinical Research as a Care Option in the Community

Glen Lesser, MD, a principal investigator and professor of oncology at Wake Forest Baptist noted, “In contrast to the majority of clinical trials for oncology that try to find new treatments for specific cancers, this program focuses on how different therapies, such as radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, can affect the quality of life for patients and their caregivers dealing with the disease.” The award press release included examples. Presently, doctors understand that various chemotherapy drug classes commonly given during breast cancer treatment as well as lymphomas can cause a permanent decrease in heart function. Hence, the Wake Forest Baptist clinical investigative team will probe for ways to protect the heart from damage, not to mention clearly define risk factors supporting physician intervention to stop future damage.

Other areas the Wake Forest Baptist team will investigate:

  • Evaluating how treatments in adolescent and young adult cancer survivors can affect their long-term ability to work;
  • Using an internet-based approach to provide rural cancer survivors with counseling for depression;
  • Using statins, a common class of drugs, to potentially protect the heart from chemotherapy-induced toxicity;
  • Training patient navigators to improve care for African-American patients with early stage lung cancer, who historically have had poor outcomes;
  • Testing and designing an effective smoking-cessation intervention for high-risk patients being screened for lung cancer. A study is under way to compare 12 sites that are doing cessation interventions during the screening process with 12 sites that don’t offer smoking cessation as part of their screenings.

Community Care

Researchers plan to share the results of their work on cancer care with community-based practices where 85% of cancer patients in this country are treated, Lesser said. What might be effective in a resource-intensive academic medical center may not be doable in a real-world community practice with more-limited resources and access to specialists, he added.

Lead Research/Investigator

Glen Lesser, MD, a principal investigator and professor of oncology at Wake Forest Baptist

Kathryn Weaver, PhD, associate professor of public health sciences, Wake Forest Baptist

Call to Action: If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer and live in North Carolina, you might want to look into the Wake Forest Baptist NCORP program.