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UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre Rated ‘Exceptional’ by National Cancer Institute in US

UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre Rated ‘Exceptional’ by National Cancer Institute in US.

Leading Research and Care Lead to Renewed Designation as Comprehensive Cancer Centre

10 December 2020UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre—which includes two advanced radiotherapy locations in Ireland—received an “exceptional” score, the highest achievable rating, and its largest grant to date when it was recently renewed as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)   designated Comprehensive Cancer Centre for another five-year period.

The award also includes a $30 million grant to be used to advance the groundbreaking research that serves as the foundation for the UPMC Hillman’s internationally renowned patient care, including at UPMC Hillman locations in Waterford and Cork.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre, working in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, is among an elite group of just 51 cancer centres with this designation in the US and the only such centre in western Pennsylvania, where UPMC is headquartered.

“The NCI renewal is an incredible accomplishment because it involves a rigorous year-long review of our programs and indicates that we’ve reached the highest achievements in laboratory and clinical cancer research, not just regionally but nationally and internationally,” said Robert Ferris, MD, PhD, director of UPMC Hillman. “It is a great credit to our phenomenal scientists and oncologists across all disciplines for advancing their fields with practice-changing discoveries.”

As an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centre, UPMC Hillman is recognized for its scientific leadership and for dedicating significant resources toward developing research programs, faculty, and facilities that lead to innovative approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

UPMC Hillman and Pitt investigators have demonstrated significant advances in cancer biology, cancer immunology and immunotherapy, cancer virology, biobehavioral cancer control, cancer epidemiology and prevention, cancer therapeutics, and genome stability. Over the past 30 years, these scientists and physicians have pushed the boundaries of cancer research and clinical care, including:

  • discovering two of the seven known cancer-causing viruses;
  • conducting research that has altered treatment paradigms and changed standard practice for a wide range of cancers, including melanoma, lung and breast cancers, thyroid, and head and neck cancers;
  • discovering new cancer immunotherapy drug targets and cancer vaccines that are being tested in clinical trials, frequently leading to new regulatory approvals.

“UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre, together with the University of Pittsburgh, has made exceptional efforts to integrate cancer research and clinical care to drive next-generation therapies that have saved lives and improved the quality of life for patients around the world,” said Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt’s School of Medicine.

For patients, an NCI Comprehensive Care Centre provides promising new therapies, clinical trials and a care program focused on excellence. With nearly 80 community cancer centres in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Maryland, as well as centers in Ireland and Italy, UPMC Hillman is one of the largest integrated cancer networks. It is home to more than 2,000 physicians, researchers and staff, who offer more than 500 clinical cancer trials throughout the vast Hillman network.

“Our vision of creating cancer centres with expert physicians and staff who care for patients close to home has been a continual effort over many years,” said Stanley M. Marks, MD, chairman of UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre. “We realised early on that we didn’t want our patients to travel while dealing with the burden of cancer treatment, and now those centers are able to offer the latest treatments and clinical trials, many of them developed by our own scientists, to patients throughout the network.”

UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre received its first NCI designation in 1990 and has been granted renewal every five years since.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre at Whitfield Hospital is based on UPMC’s “hub-and-spoke” model in which a wide range of oncology services is offered in local communities with support from UPMC’s academic and clinical hub at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre in Pittsburgh. Based on its high quality standards and patient safety, the centre has been accredited multiple times by the Joint Commission International. Building on its success in Waterford, UPMC Hillman partnered with Bon Secours Health System to open Bon Secours Radiotherapy Cork in 2019. It offers one of the most advanced stereotactic radiosurgery systems available in the Munster province.