Where the Money Goes:
Levine Cancer Institute and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Levine Cancer Institute
Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute’s unique concept of care delivery is giving patients throughout the Carolinas access to innovative research, state-of-the-art treatment and top-ranked physician expertise. Established in 2010, Institute distributes care across a network of 12 elite cancer centers in North and South Carolina, which provides access to nationally renowned oncology experts and many of the industry’s most promising clinical trials with minimal travel.
Through an advanced technology connection, including webcasted teleconferences and virtual tumor boards, physicians located throughout the Institute are able to collaborate on best practices and treatment guidelines ensuring that all patients, regardless of location, get the highest quality care and have access to the latest cancer-fighting tools and expertise. Over the past several years, some of the nation’s leading physicians and researchers from institutions such as MD Anderson, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Fox Chase Cancer Center and the University of Arkansas have joined the Institute.
Levine Cancer Institute is led by Derek Raghavan, MD, who formerly headed Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute. Since joining the System in 2010, Dr. Raghavan has led the charge to eliminate barriers to care such as clinical and research sites, cultural barriers and access. Under his leadership, the Institute launched one of the first patient navigator academies for a health system in the country. He also has been instrumental in the development of the Institute’s community-based care efforts to address demographic and geographic disparities in screening and treatment.
About Levine Cancer Institute
- One of the country’s largest single institution cancer research databases, with more than 11,000 new cases annually.
- Research and administration headquarters is located on the campus of Carolina Medical Center and houses nine cancer clinics, infusion therapy, palliative care and clinical trials, including a Phase I unit, in a 171,000-square foot building
- Has implemented clinical pathways treatment guidelines throughout the Institute’s network, covering 15 different tumor sites to ensure treatment is consistent for all Institute patients, no matter the facility in which they’re being treated.
- The Institute’s hematologic oncology and blood disorders program is led by a team of world-renowned physicians who sub-specialize in treating aggressive types of blood cancer.
- Offers innovative survivorship programs like patient navigation, and has one of the nation’s first navigator academies
- Leading research, especially around first-in-human trials and complex cancer
- Innovative geriatric and integrative medicine cancer programs and emergency department protocols
- Unique structure to better track outcomes, drive efficiency, move research from bench to bedside
From Steven Leach, MD, Director of the Dartmouth Norris Cotton Cancer Center:
All of us at the Cancer Center are extremely grateful for the ongoing support received from the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center across the country. Our Cancer Center researchers, doctors, nurses, and staff play a critical role in improving health across our region, and our Cancer Center is among the select group that the National Cancer Institute designates as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, meaning that it achieves across the board excellence in cancer treatment, research, prevention and education.
It is our commitment to you that all donations raised through Friends events such as SQUASH CANCER will be used under my direction to advance cancer research, improve cancer treatment protocols, develop strategies for cancer prevention, provide supportive services for patients with cancer and their families, and facilitate otherwise unfunded endeavors in cancer research, education, and translation of research from science to patients.
Norris Cotton Cancer Center is the grateful beneficiary of the fundraising efforts of the Friends. The application of monies raised by the Friends is tailored to the needs of the Cancer Center as identified by its leadership groups—Executive Committee, Cancer Research Committee, and Clinical Cancer Committee.
One particular form is pilot project awards, which are small-dollar grants that allow researchers to test novel hypotheses. With these preliminary data they can then apply for much larger federal grants. Over a five-year period, these grants totaled $1.2 million and then brought in more than $20 million in federal grants, which is a testament to the excellence of the science.
Here are three examples of pilot projects that have gone on to receive subsequent funding:
Alan Eastman, the senior researcher on the team and a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Geisel.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) recurs in patients because cells effectively hid from the initial drug treatment. NCCC researchers Alan Eastman and Alexey Danilov discovered a new drug combination to kill the resistant cells. Eastman calls it “the most promising drug combination so far for the treatment of CLL.” Their research began with a 2011 pilot grant and now has funding from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Next step a clinical trial.
Smaller and lighter than a cellphone, the secondhand smoke sensor uses polymer films to collect and measure nicotine in the air.
The search for a real-time sensor of dangerous second-hand and third-hand smoke exposure was launched with a 2008 grant. Susanne Tanski, a pediatrician and NCCC researcher with a great idea, got a pilot grant to develop it in collaboration with Thayer School engineers. Creating something smaller than a cell phone, she and her team have been so successful they now have a patent pending and a clinical trial starting immediately! This has been spun off into an award winning company, making a difference in air quality around the country in hotels.
William Kinlaw, M.D., professor of medicine at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
Keeping cancer cells from the fat they need to grow shows success in reducing breast cancer tumors. Bill Kinlaw’s pilot grant was to explore the connection between breast cancer tumors and fatty acid synthesis. His hypothesis? If you target genes involved in the synthesis of fat by cancer cells you might be able to “starve” the tumor. A clinical trial recently showed they were on the right track to developing a drug that would keep tumors from the fat they need, effectively killing them.
Norris Cotton Cancer Center supports a truly comprehensive spectrum of research topics– from the development of nanoparticle-based treatments, to new drugs targeting only cancer cells, to radiation therapy enhancements, to cancer prevention studies for colon cancer, to palliative care interventions, to quality care initiatives improving treatment for cancer patients. Nothing comes easy, and improving cancer treatment always requires a comprehensive approach plus the patience and resources to go through the many steps necessary to develop a new drug or a new treatment for even one of the hundred of diseases called cancer.
For more information about current research, please log on to cancer.dartmouth.edu
Patient Supportive Services:
Money raised also makes possible patient supportive services that are otherwise unfunded. These programs help ease the path of cancer patients and their families with support groups, massage therapy, transportation assistance, art and writing programs, and much more.
Funding from the Friends for patient and family-centered services is allocated through the Executive Committee and implemented by the Patient Services Coordinator.
Examples of applied funding:
Patient Support Services for patients and families include massage, writing and arts programs, and relaxation techniques offered to patients. In addition, cancer information is provided through educational seminars, three libraries, and through the Cancer Help Line. Plus, transportation assistance is available.
Cancer Support Groups reach out to people with cancer and their families, offering support to long-time survivors, caregivers, and newly diagnosed patients.
Patient Navigator Program Now embedded in the Manchester clinic through a 50-50 partnership with the American Cancer Society, this program helps patients, families, and caregivers navigate the many systems needed during the cancer journey. Trained Patient Navigators link those dealing with cancer to needed programs and resources.
Nursing Education and Support:
Application of philanthropic funds, administered by a committee of oncology nurses and the Executive Committee, expands educational opportunities for nurses and nurtures those who care for our patients.
Continuing Nursing Education Funding support is provided to nurture nurses up the ranks of the oncology nursing specialty through participation in conferences, coursework, and other continuing nursing education initiatives. Increased support will contribute to the continuing advancement of our nursing teams and the expertise they bring to our patients.
Nursing Respite and Recognition With increased philanthropy, the Executive Committee is now able to work with nursing leaders to envision new mechanisms for providing both respite and recognition to oncology nurses– those who bear the brunt of the emotional impact of cancer care.
The Marilyn K. Bedell Distinguished Lecture in Oncology Nursing This annual lecture focuses on important contemporary issues in oncology nursing.