Wake Forest Baptist Medical
Center has received an $18 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer
Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) to design and conduct
community-based, multi-center screening, prevention and control cancer clinical
Wake Forest Baptist is one of seven funded NCORP Research
Bases in the country and one of only two cancer centers to receive this designation.
“The NCORP grant process was very competitive and
reflects on our long track record and the success of the previous NCI-funded
program at Wake Forest Baptist that was directed by Dr. Ed Shaw for 13 years,”
said Edward Abraham, M.D., dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine.
The NCORP grant funds the infrastructure needed to develop
and run clinical trials, which will then be open to a network of community
sites. To date, there are 22 community and minority NCORP sites throughout the
country that have signed up to be part of the Wake Forest Baptist network.
“Our goal is to improve the quality of life and care
experienced by patients with cancer by reducing or preventing treatment-related
symptoms and toxicities and improving cancer care delivery,” said Glenn Lesser,
M.D., professor of hematology and oncology at Wake Forest Baptist and principal
investigator of the NCORP-funded project.
“Hundreds of thousands of people each year are now being
cured of cancer or experiencing long-term survival and we need their quality of
life and functional status to be as normal as possible. Unfortunately, many of
these people may be cancer-free, but still suffer from the often severe and
prolonged side effects of the therapies, as well as the long-term social and
personal implications of having survived the disease.”
Specifically, the Wake Forest Baptist team will focus on
three key areas: cardiovascular complications of cancer therapy, including
early diagnosis, intervention and prevention strategies; neurocognitive
complications of cancer therapy, such as memory loss and dementia; and traditional
cancer and treatment-related symptoms and toxicities – loss of appetite, taste
changes, muscle loss – experienced from diagnosis through long-term
In addition, the researcher team will work to understand
the basic mechanisms underlying cancer and treatment-related symptoms and
toxicities in an effort to determine what specific interventions will or will
not be effective for individuals.
Other priorities, Lesser said, will be to build on Wake
Forest Baptist’s success in recruiting racial and ethnic minorities and underserved
populations as study participants, as well as to train the next generation of
medical and public health cancer researchers.
“Our Comprehensive Cancer Center ranks among the very
best in the nation and has consistently ranked as the best in the Southeast,” said
Boris Pasche, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive
Cancer Center and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology. “This award will
allow our faculty members to share their expertise with community and minority
sites in a way that will significantly improve cancer care. This award is
a testimony to Wake Forest Baptist’s excellence in cancer care."
The NCORP program oversees the majority of cancer prevention,
control and screening post-treatment clinical trials and cancer care delivery
research conducted by the National Clinical Trials Network and Cancer Center Research
Bases. The NCI is part of the federal National Institutes of Health.