Grant to Bring More Clinical Trials for Cancer Center, Gulf South Patients

Cancer collaborative awarded $5.6 million over five years; significant impact to be made on cancer associated health disparities


Louisiana and Gulf South residents will soon have more options to seek advanced cancer treatment thanks to a $5.6 million National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program award.

The NCORP grant presented to Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans by the National Cancer Institute will continue through 2019 and focus on conducting multisite cancer clinical trials and cancer care delivery research studies throughout Louisiana. Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital and LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport will work with LSU-New Orleans in what collectively is known as the Gulf South Minority/Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program (GS-MU-NCORP).

NCI has revised its focus on funding clinical trials programs because of the critical role research plays in the future of cancer care. Clinical trials are the final step in a long process that begins with research in a lab, and most treatments used today result from past trials. Through the NCORP grant, the collaborative will be able to offer patients, particularly minorities, which historically are underserved in cancer care, increased access to more clinical trials throughout Louisiana. About 80 percent of the state will be reached through
this effort.

This effort is unprecedented in Louisiana, and is one of only 12 of its kind in the country to serve as a Minority/Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program.

“The NCORP grant will allow patients to receive the most advanced clinical trials and cancer treatments while remaining on the Northshore, close to home and their families,” said Rob Leonhard, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital administrator. “We are always seeking ways to stay at the forefront of cancer care, and this collaboration helps us continue to provide the highest quality healthcare to those in our community.”

The grant also is expected to expand cancer prevention, screening and survivorship clinical trials to improve early diagnosis and treatment as well as help patients cope with the extended process of getting back to their pre-cancer lives. The initiative will include a multidisciplinary approach to patient care to provide the most comprehensive treatment plan for patients.

“The GS-MU-NCORP is the result of a concerted effort by clinical and research leaders from the Cancer Centers at LSU-New Orleans and Shreveport and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, to create a network of centers that can provide access to cutting edge treatments for cancer patients in the Gulf South region,” said Dr. Augusto Ochoa, director of the LSUHSC New Orleans Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center and principal investigator for the grant. “It provides access to high quality research studies to patients closer to home where family, friends and their support system is available. The GS-MU-NCORP is also a major step in addressing the health disparities caused by cancer among our citizens, especially minorities, and establishes new opportunities for cancer care in the region.”

NCORP replaces two previous NCI community-based clinical research programs: the NCI Community Clinical Oncology Program and the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program. The new NCORP effort builds on the strengths of the previous programs and aims to better address the most pressing issues affecting the conduct and delivery of care in communities across the nation.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital provides comprehensive cancer care that strives to positively impact the lives of cancer patients and their families on the Northshore. Services include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, as well as patient navigation, clinical trials and free community screenings. Not only do patients have access to these vital cancer services and high quality cancer care, but these services are readily available close to home.