NCI Grant Will Bring More Breakthrough Cancer Clinical Trials to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at TGMC

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


Louisiana and Gulf South residents who are patients at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at TGMC 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 TGMC 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 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.

“Through this collaboration, more patients in the Bayou Region have the ability to stay close to home near their families while receiving the most advanced clinical trials and cancer treatments,” said Melanie Rasmusson, director, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at TGMC. “Participation in NCORP will keep us on the leading edge of clinical research and allows us to provide even higher quality services to those we are humbled to serve.”

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 TGMC, 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 TGMC provides the full spectrum of cancer care, from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship for those in the Bayou Region. Its services include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, as well as patient navigation, clinical trials and free community screenings. The Center is nationally accredited with commendation and recognized for excellence in cancer care by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.