Advocate Aurora Receives $10.2 Million Grant for Cancer Research

Michael Thompson and Thomas Saphner are two of the Advocate Aurora Health oncologists whose patients can participate in the new clinical trials. (photo courtesy of the Advocate Aurora Health website)

UCC-related Advocate Aurora Health, based in Downers Grove, Ill., and Milwaukee, Wis., has announced receipt of a $10.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The grant will expand current clinical trials taking place at 18 Aurora clinic locations to include 13 legacy Advocate sites in Illinois.

The new grant will build on the research already underway via a five-year, $4.6 million NCI Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant that concluded in July 2019. Through NCORP, clinical cancer trials are accessible in community-based clinics instead of major research centers.

During the initial grant, 78 NCI trials took place in 18 existing cancer clinics in eastern Wisconsin, with more than 1,200 participants. The original clinical trials were for brain, breast, lung and prostate cancers, as well as for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

“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 big cities,” Dr. Amy Beres, oncology research director for the Aurora Research Institute, told the Milwaukee-based Biz Times on Aug. 20. “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.”

Amy Beres

As part of the new six-year grant, Advocate Children’s Hospital will hold pediatric clinical trials at its two main locations. The grant runs from August 2019 through July 2025.

Dr. Thomas Saphner, Aurora Health Care co-principal investigator, also was quoted by the Biz Times. “NCORP is a critical, federally-funded program that allows our health system to bring cancer clinical trials to people in their own communities instead of restricting them to major research institutions,” he said. “We’re proud to have been selected to continue this important work as a partner of the National Cancer Institute.”

The additional sites means a significant increase in the number of patients enrolled in the clinical trials.

“The NCI was very excited about the addition of the Illinois sites,” Beres added. “In Wisconsin, Aurora has historically seen more than 8,000 new cancer patients a year, and that number is slightly (higher) in Illinois. Together, we’re at about 18,000 new cancer cases per year. That’s a huge number of patients we could potentially reach with new therapies.”

Read more about the grant.


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