OSUCCC – James Making ‘Ever-Bigger Footprint’ in Cancer Care

Michael Caliguri 3Ohio State’s cancer program is placing “an ever-bigger footprint around the globe” as it continues to make an impact in research, compassionate care and community relationships, OSUCCC Director and James CEO Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, said during his 2016 “State of the Cancer Program Address.” “The impact we’re making couldn’t come soon enough,” Caligiuri said on Nov. 9 when addressing a packed conference room of staff, Ohio State leadership and James Foundation Board members. “I get calls almost every day from people who are desperate for help. It’s really neat for them to learn that help is on the way” via all that the OSUCCC – James has to offer through its research-based cancer care.

Reiterating the cancer program’s shared vision of creating a cancer-free world, one person and one discovery at a time, Caligiuri said it is “important to remember that each of you, no matter what your role, has an incredible impact on helping to achieve this goal.”

He divided his address into segments detailing how the OSUCCC – James is making an impact in research, compassionate care, working with community partners and changing the landscape of cancer care by finding innovative ways to face and overcome challenges. Here are some of the many highlights he shared:


Caligiuri reported that the OSUCCC – James’ more than more than 330 researchers have collectively increased the program’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant funding over the past decade by 40 percent—to more than $54.4 million—and that thousands of their discoveries have been published in high-impact scientific journals during that span.

“We’re growing our research and increasing our scientific impact…and doing it together,” he said, noting that researchers realized a 46-percent increase between 2010-2015 in the number of their studies that have appeared in high-impact journals. He added that 87 percent of publications have been collaborative by involving scientists from multiple disciplines.

Emphasizing the importance of translating discoveries to state-of-the-art treatments for patients, Caligiuri said OSUCCC – James researchers from 2010-2015 had a 44-percent increase in investigator-initiated therapeutic clinical trials (CTs), a 51-percent rise in total therapeutic CTs and a 44-percent increase in total interventional CTs. He added that the OSUCCC – James places 23 percent of patients in therapeutic CTs, well above the national average of only 3 percent. “And at academic medical centers like ours, the average accrual rate is 12 percent, so we’re almost double that.”

Caligiuri said the cancer program invests in its future through endeavors such as Pelotonia. To date, millions of dollars in Pelotonia funding have supported more than 400 fellowship awards for Ohio State students in any discipline who want to conduct cancer research in the labs of faculty mentors. Millions more dollars have funded more than 100 “idea grants” competitively awarded to teams of faculty scientists who need start-up money to develop early data for innovative projects so they can later apply for larger grants from external sources such as the NCI.

Another resource for generating revenue to accelerate the translation of research to therapy, Caligiuri said, is the Drug Development Institute (DDI). This biotech-like entity, embedded in the OSUCCC – James, identifies promising anticancer agents discovered by Ohio State scientists and advances those agents through the pharmaceutical development process for potential partnering with industry to bring new drugs to the healthcare market. The DDI is overseen by an external advisory board of business and pharmaceutical experts who help expedite the process while reducing associated risks, delays and costs.

“Our oncology portfolio with the DDI encompasses multiple therapeutic platforms, including small molecules, immunotherapy, vaccines and imaging agents,” Caligiuri said.

He mentioned that one example of a successful project that “went through the DDI pipeline” is a partnership between the institute and Pharma to develop a novel agent for cancer treatment. This project, led by principal investigator Robert Baiocchi, MD, PhD, of the OSUCCC – James, involved a first-in-class drug that selectively inhibits PRMT5, a potential onco-protein that transforms a normal cell into a cancer cell.

Still another far-reaching endeavor to bolster science-based cancer care is a national collaboration called the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN), which was founded and is co-anchored by the OSUCCC – James and Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., amid growing recognition of the important role that “big data” and data sharing play in advancing cancer research. So far, Caligiuri said, 15 leading cancer centers have joined ORIEN, which has become the largest observational study of its kind in cancer. ORIEN members use a protocol called Total Cancer Care® (TCC) to hasten development and delivery of more precise cancer treatments, diagnostic tools and prevention strategies through research sharing of consented patient data.

“Data obtained through this lifetime partnership with patients is very attractive to researchers because it’s all patient-consented, HIPAA compliant, and offers a wealth of information that enables us to notify patients with specific types of cancer when new drugs are available that may help them,” Caligiuri said, pointing out that 96 percent of patients at the OSUCCC – James have agreed to join the Total Cancer Care (TCC) protocol. “Patients are genotypically and phenotypically profiled at the time of TCC consent, actively tracked for recurrence or disease progression, and then matched to clinical trials in real time as they become eligible.”

Compassionate Care

Caligiuri reported that, since the new 21-story, 308-bed James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute opened in December 2014, it has reached 98 percent bed occupancy. In fiscal 2016 The James admitted 13,780 inpatients and recorded 391,035 outpatient visits, respective increases of 8.9-percent and 8.8 percent from the previous fiscal year. The hospital also recorded 202,939 clinic visits, an 11.9-percent increase. In addition, he said, the hospital logged 10,273 surgeries (4.3-percent increase), performed 44,891 radiation treatments (12.2-percent increase) and administered 50,913 chemotherapy treatments (14.3-percent increase).

Quality care at the OSUCCC – James continues to gain national recognition. Citing examples, Caligiuri mentioned that the hospital earned the 2016 Press Ganey Excellence Award for Patient Experience, Inpatient Care and HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems). “Press Ganey is a company that for more than 30 years has focused on patient satisfaction and patient experience,” he said. “Our scores this past year have put us in the 98th percentile, or in the top 2 percent of all hospitals nationwide.” (Read more about this award on page 4.)

Caligiuri also congratulated The James Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) for being named as one of six finalists out of 200 applicants for the 2016 National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year Award presented by The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare. The MICU was the first team (vs. individual caregiver) ever to be named a finalist for this national recognition program.

Additionally, Caligiuri commended The James Acute Care Oncology Fellowship Program for Advanced Practice Providers for being “Accredited With Distinction” by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Commission on Accreditation. “Our recognition as an ANCC practice transition program accreditation with distinction was primarily tied into our nurse practitioners (NPs),” he said. “Kudos to our NPs, who are becoming ever more critical to our mission.”

Further enhancements to patient care at the OSUCCC – James will be realized, Caligiuri said, with the fall 2016 opening of the Patient and Family Resource Center and the winter 2017 opening of phase II of a full-service Specialty Pharmacy—a resource to fill all patient medications, including specialty medications that are used to treat chronic, rare or complex conditions (such as those experienced by patients on chemotherapy).

Also in the works are initiatives to create more capacity for patients by developing currently shelled space on the 10th floor (24 beds) and the 12th floor (48 beds) of The James. The steering committee has recommended these spaces be devoted to medical-surgical and critical care beds. The OSUCCC – James anticipates opening the first of these beds in mid-2018.

Community Partnerships

“Our mission is not only about research and patient care, but about the many impactful relationships we have with generous members of our community. Without their help we would not be able to do what we do,” Caligiuri said. As a prime example, he pointed to the success of the recently completed “But for Ohio State” campaign, a university-wide initiative that over seven years raised more than $3 billion from over 750,000 donors, including more than $420 million raised largely by The James Foundation Board. (Read more about the But for Ohio State campaign on page 8.) He thanked the board, led by Chair Lisa Hinson, “for their leadership in helping us achieve our operational, fiscal and clinical goals. This is an incredibly devoted group of people who volunteer to sit on the board for the good of our patients.”

Referring to other huge examples of philanthropy, Caligiuri spoke of: the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the OSUCCC – James, for which more than $20 million has been raised since the fund was established in 1998; Celebration for Life, which observed its 15th anniversary and has generated over $16.5 million; the Herbert J. Block Memorial Tournament, which has brought in $5.8 million since it was started in 1982; Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, which in 10 years has raised more than $10 million; and Pelotonia, which has raised more than $130 million.

Being Innovators to Face Challenges

Caligiuri identified several challenges facing academic medical institutions, such as declining federal funding for research, healthcare economics that shrink profit margins, increased competition from affiliations and consolidations, competing in the “big data” era, and recruiting and retaining top-flight academic talent.

“But I am convinced that if we continue to innovate, we will not only meet but exceed our challenges,” he told the audience. “At the heart of it all is all of you. We need to continue bringing in and retaining great talent to support our cause.”

Caligiuri reported that an additional 22 cancer-focused faculty have been recruited in the past year, including such senior recruits as Cheryl Taylore Lee, MD, chair of the Department of Urology and a bladder cancer specialist; Timothy Pawlik, MD, PhD, a liver cancer specialist who chairs the Department of Surgery; Peixuan Guo, PhD, an expert in nanotechnology who has joined the College of Pharmacy; and Karen Patricia Williams, PhD, a cancer control expert in the College of Nursing.

Caligiuri said the OSUCCC – James continues to change the landscape of cancer care through such important new initiatives as a predictive cancer medicine/digital pathology model that was launched in October to provide an integrated view of patient information, pathology images and molecular data that will yield algorithms for care planning. The cancer program has partnered with Inspirata Inc. of Tampa, Fla., a cancer diagnostics and digital pathology workflow solution provider, for this endeavor, which will enable the OSUCCC – James to incrementally transform cancer detection and diagnostic processes from being anchored in the analog world to being opened to the advantages afforded by the digital world.

Another example of leadership innovation, Caligiuri said, is the successful Pelotonia-funded Ohio Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative (OCCPI), which established a network of 50 hospitals around the state that have screened more than 3,000 colorectal cancer patients for Lynch syndrome (LS), an inherited genetic condition that predisposes to several cancers. Caligiuri said the initiative has saved an estimated 750 life years and some $40 million in healthcare costs. He added that the cancer program is fully prepared to take this lifesaving initiative nationwide, having called for a national demonstration project to systematically screen all patients with colorectal or endometrial cancer for LS.

Caligiuri also spoke of a brand new Pelotonia-funded statewide initiative that is aimed at improving lung cancer outcomes with advanced genomic testing and decision support to local providers while also improving smokingcessation rates among lung cancer patients and their families. Called “Beating Lung Cancer in Ohio (BLC-IO),” this initiative will involve the same 50-hospital network as the OCCPI. (Read more about this new project on page 5.)

“We are making an enormous impact on the prevalence of cancer from the discoveries we’re making and the treatment we’re delivering,” Caligiuri concluded, “and the ‘we’ is all of you.”

Watch the full address on The James YouTube channel.

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