SAN ANTONIO (September 25, 2014) — Pediatric oncologists at the UT Health Science Center will lead a consortium of regional providers in pediatric cancer research trials under a new $3.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.
The grant is through the NCI’s Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) and it designates this area as one of 12 minority/underserved community sites in the United States, and the only NCORP site in Texas.
“Hispanic children have the highest incidence of cancers and the poorest outcomes,” said Gail Tomlinson, M.D., Ph.D., interim director of the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute at the Health Science Center. “Because we are a majority-Hispanic city and have such a large Hispanic population in the area we serve, it is essential that our children be included on national trials.”
In awarding the grant, the NCI “also measured our ability to study the delivery of health care services, health outcomes, and other things. There were many factors including our track record of being able to do clinical trials, and we recruit all ethnicities on those trials,” she said. The large scale of the grant and the area it covers means the best care is close for a huge number of families.
“We know that children, adolescents and young adults treated on clinical trials tend to do better,” said Anne-Marie Langevin, M.D., professor and pediatric hematologist-oncologist at the UT Health Science Center and principal investigator on the grant. “With all the partners we cover 90,000 square miles of Texas, and we offer families of children and young people with cancer access to a network of clinical trials.”
The NCORP grant continues the Health Science Center pediatric oncologists’ more than 20-year tradition of offering South Texas children access to state-of-the-art cancer care trials, including through the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a national children’s cancer study network.
“Our pediatricians are very good at providing young patients access to clinical trials, and therefore state-of-the-art care,” Dr. Tomlinson said, “and with every clinical trial, treatments get better and better, not just cure rates but decreases in toxicity and better long-term health.”
The other grant partners include San Antonio Military Medical Center, Methodist Children’s Hospital, Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin and Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi.
The 5-year grant replaces a federal pediatric cancer grant also led by the Health Science Center for more than 23 years, Dr. Langevin said. The new grant focuses on issues like survivorship — the next big step in improving pediatric cancer care — as well as cancer care delivery research, genetic counseling and support services including consistent and accurate translation for families with language barriers.
The Health Science Center-led grant joins the regional partners with a network of seven NCORP research bases, 34 community sites and 12 minority/underserved community sites across the country. These sites are listed on the NCORP website at: http://ncorp.cancer.gov.
The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit www.ctrc.net.