Reaching a Perfect Rating

Caligiuri AACR President

When Michael Caligiuri, MD, arrived at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute in 1997, he started on a path to build an even better cancer center. Read along with us as we explore how he helped build the OSUCCC – James into the center it is today. This is part one in a six-story series.

The nation’s 47 comprehensive cancer centers are scored on a qualitative scale, with “exceptional” being the highest rating possible, as well as a numeric scale from 10 to 100, with 10 being the best score. In its most recent review, the OSUCCC was rated exceptional, received a perfect 10 for the first time, and will receive an estimated $25 million CCSG from the NCI over a 5-year period.

The OSUCCC earned its comprehensive cancer center status in 1976, and with this designation — the highest ranking by the NCI — comes not only prestige, but significant federal funding through its Cancer Support Grant (CSG).

“It’s awarded for the breadth and depth of your science and research,” Dr. Caligiuri said, adding “the NCI’s grading process is an incredibly thorough, peer-reviewed process that takes place every five years.”

“To my knowledge, we’re the first and only university-based cancer center to get a perfect score,” said Dr. Caligiuri, Director of the OSUCCC and CEO of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). Only one other comprehensive cancer center (Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York) has ever received a perfect score, he said.

In recognition of his individual accomplishments as a clinical physician, research scientist and leader of the OSUCCC – James, Dr. Caligiuri was elected 2017-18 president of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and began his term with the world’s largest organization focused on cancer research on April 3.

Dr. Caligiuri called this a great honor, as well as an opportunity “to showcase The James and the Comprehensive Cancer Center and to network. It’s great exposure for us, a wonderful recruiting tool to help us bring in even more of the top people.”

How the OSUCCC – James earned the perfect score and gained its worldwide reputation as one of the leading centers for cancer research and patient care under the leadership of Dr. Caligiuri is a story filled with determination and passion. And it’s a story in which a team effort of hundreds of people contributed and made all these accomplishments possible.

This is the first in a series of stories that will explore the career and leadership of Dr. Caligiuri: His background, and how he came to the OSUCCC – James and helped to build a perfect score by recruiting the top talent, building a state-of-the-art cancer hospital in the midst of a deep recession, connecting with the community to raise millions for research, as well as his plans to build upon exceptional and perfect.

What drives Dr. Caligiuri is simple.

“We all know people who have heard those three words: ‘You have cancer,’” he often says when he gives a talk. “We all know people who desperately need our help, and there’s nothing better than when you can say to them, ‘We can help you, help is on the way from discoveries made right here in our labs.’”

This is the first story in a six-part series on Michael A. Caligiuri, MD. The series explores Dr. Caligiuri’s background, career and accomplishments leading up to being named President of the American Association for Cancer Research. Links to the other parts of the series are below.

Part 2: From Buffalo to Columbus
Part 3: Turning Around the OSUCCC – James
Part 4: A Day in the Life
Part 5: The Three Pillars of Leadership
Part 6: What's Next – Improving Upon Perfection