Andrew L. Pecora, MD
John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) announced in a press conference today that it has been approved by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to become a member of the NCI-designated Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Consortium. The partnership is one of just 16 NCI-designated cancer consortia.
“Over the past 30 years, I've truly been privileged to be part of the effort that has led to the creation of the John Theurer Cancer Center and now its designation as a member of the Georgetown Lombardi Consortium,” said Andrew L. Pecora, MD, president of Physician Enterprise and chief innovations officer at Hackensack Meridian Health and professor of medicine and oncology at Georgetown University. “The NCI’s approval of the consortium represents the culmination of integrated research and collective talent and resources of two cancer centers.”
“This is a really difficult process, but it is immensely rewarding,” said Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. “When you get a designation such as we've received, we know that we've passed over the bar to enter the big leagues of cancer research and care.”
Weiner is also the Francis L. and Charlotte G. Gragnani Chair and professor of oncology and chair in the department of Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center and director of the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute.
The relationship between JTCC, part of Hackensack Meridian Health-Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, and Georgetown Lombardi dates back to 2013. In 2015, the 2 institutions announced that they were developing a research agenda together as part of a long-term plan to become an NCI-designated cancer consortium.
The JTCC and Georgetown Lombardi, in Washington, DC, are separated by roughly 240 miles, the greatest distance between member institutions of any NCI-designated cancer consortium. Most cancer consortia involve institutions in a single city such as Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center that includes facilities in and around Cleveland, Ohio.
Weiner said that, with modern communications technology, investigators don't need to be in the same place to work together effectively.
“What we've done is establish a template for how we can work together to generate progress that then can affect not just one area of our country, as most cancer centers do, but really influence 2 of the most important areas in our country—the Washington, DC, and New York metropolitan regions,” he said. “We have a very cohesive vision of how we want to work together. We've done an enormous amount of work to completely combine our organizations in service of our mission of cancer research and improving patient care.”
The consortium will focus on 4 key research areas: cancer prevention and control, experimental therapeutics, molecular oncology, and breast cancer, which has long been a point of emphasis at Georgetown Lombardi. The consortium is planning to target cancer disparities specifically. Weiner said it was “unconscionable and unacceptable” that some patients have poorer outcomes due to factors like race or socioeconomic status.
“Across the consortium, we have a very diverse population with different needs and different issues,” added André Goy, MD, MS, chairman and executive director of the JTCC and professor of medicine at Georgetown. “Therefore, there is an important need for us to look at this across the platform and address the community’s needs.”
Physicians at JTCC conduct more than 400 bone marrow transplants (BMT) annually, making it one of the largest BMT programs in the Northeast. The JTCC operates the multiple myeloma program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital/Georgetown Lombardi and established a BMT program there in 2014.