A new 5-year, $7.3 million award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will allow Kaiser Permanente to expand its innovative oncology clinical trials program and conduct new research on cancer care delivery. (NCI subsequently increased the award to $10.4 million.)
The Kaiser Permanente Northern California clinical trials program is currently one of the national leaders and is the California leader in enrolling cancer patients into clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
“This award will allow Kaiser Permanente’s cancer care teams to offer an even broader menu of clinical trials at all 21 medical centers in the Northern California region,” said Louis Fehrenbacher, MD, director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Oncology Clinical Trials.
The award, announced by the National Cancer Institute today, is part of a new national research program called the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). Being part of the program will allow Kaiser Permanente to continue its focus on “enrolling patients in the NCI Clinical Trials Network, testing new cutting-edge therapies, and comparing existing cancer treatments on a patient-by-patient basis,” Fehrenbacher said.
Kaiser Permanente was the only health care system in California to be designated as a community-based cancer research site (NCORP) by the National Cancer Institute, and is one of only two designated NCORP sites in California (out of of 34 nationally).
The Kaiser Permanente NCORP will serve about one out of every 40 cancer patients in the United States. The award includes clinical trial programs in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California, Southern California, Northwest, Colorado, and Hawaii regions. Dr. Fehrenbacher, located at the Vallejo Medical Center, will serve as NCORP program director for Kaiser Permanente.
The National Cancer Institute award emphasizes the importance of including minority and other underserved patient populations in clinical research, while posing research questions that address health disparities in many aspects of cancer control and cancer care. The Kaiser Permanente NCORP has been successful in giving access to clinical trials to minority and underserved populations and expects the grant to solidify this achievement.
The NCORP designation also provides new funding and focus for research into cancer care delivery. This includes:
- Evaluating alternative treatment delivery systems.
- Preventing disease.
- Managing pain and symptoms.
- Investigating disparities in cancer outcomes and how to eliminate them.
“Kaiser Permanente is ideally situated to be a major force and provide national leadership in cancer care delivery research,” said Laurel A. Habel, PhD, section chief of cancer research with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. Habel will co-lead the new research program for the Kaiser Permanente NCORP.
“The investigators in our research centers are experienced in delivery-care science and multi-institutional studies, have access to cancer registries and research databases, and most importantly, are committed to improving cancer care delivery and outcomes.”