Wake Forest Baptist Cancer Center Awarded $18 Million by National Cancer Institute

August 27, 2014

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 trials.

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 survivorship.

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.

Media Relations

Marguerite Beck: marbeck@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-2415