The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) received a perfect score of 10 and the highest possible rating (“exceptional”) from the NCI following a May 2015 site visit that resulted in our five-year NCI redesignation as a comprehensive cancer center (CCC) and an estimated $25 million NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG).

NCI designation as a CCC is the most prestigious recognition a cancer program can receive, as it provides an expert outside validation of an institution’s quality cancer research. Cancer centers are ranked on both a qualitative scale and a numeric scale from 10 to 100, with lower scores being better. The OSUCCC – James is one of only 45 CCCs in the nation — a designation we have competitively maintained since 1976 — and the only CCC in central Ohio. The institution has more than $85.9 million in total cancer research funding.

Why NCI Designation Matters

The landscape for conducting cancer research and delivering cancer care has changed radically in the past 10 years. Rather than evaluating cancer by its stage and anatomic location, we focus more on the unique biologic makeup of each individual malignancy. The OSUCCC – James is proud to be at the forefront of this paradigm shift, which has occurred because of innovative research conducted here and elsewhere.

Our goal is to translate our research into more precise and less toxic treatments that lead to more durable patient responses. To do this, we must provide evidence that the treatments will have the right impact. Such evidence can be developed only through research that is bolstered by NCI designation and the accompanying grant support for scientific leadership and administration, shared technology and services, and development.

Attracting and Retaining Innovative Scientific Minds

Our NCI designation and research support attract some of the brightest minds in oncology to Ohio State. In the past 10 years, we have recruited dozens of cancer researchers, including such nationally recognized faculty as:

  • David Carbone, MD, PhD (lung cancer)
  • Maura Gillison, MD, PhD (head and neck/HPV)
  • Richard Goldberg, MD (colorectal cancer)
  • Paul Goodfellow, PhD (human genetics)
  • Raphael Pollock, MD, PhD (sarcoma)
  • Peter Shields, MD (lung cancer/tobacco research)
  • Roman Skoracki, MD (plastic surgery)
  • Julia White, MD (breast radiation oncology)

Many of our recruits bring nationally recognized research programs that can be leveraged and expanded with the talent and resources already here. These faculty members then serve as professional mentors for next generation junior investigators who come to Ohio State.

National Thought Leader in Advancing Cancer Research

Since our last competitive NCI grant renewal in 2010, the OSUCCC – James has launched several initiatives that have propelled the shifting landscape of cancer research and care, including:

  • Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN)
  • Drug Development Institute
  • Precision Cancer Medicine Program Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science (CERTS)
  • Ohio Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative (OCCPI)

Changing the Landscape of Cancer Care

We continue to gain prominence as a hub of oncology research innovation. Our faculty have conducted and published research that has resulted in changes to the clinical practice of oncology. The following are illustrative of the caliber of research knowledge that exists here:

  • Mandating Patient Navigation Services: Electra Paskett, PhD, MSPH, and her team performed a multi-institutional study that led the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer to mandate that accredited institutions implement patient navigation in 2015. This change was made to ensure continuity of care and reduce health disparities.
  • Understanding HPV’s Role in Oral Cancer Treatment Outcomes: Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, and her team discovered that HPV-associated oral cancers have a better long-term prognosis than other forms of oral cancer, resulting in a shift of clinical management for patients with HPV-positive oral cancer.
  • Breakthrough Leukemia Treatment: John Byrd, MD, and his team were the first to characterize the drug ibrutinib’s activity in malignant B cells and demonstrate its preclinical and clinical efficacy in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), as well as the molecular mechanisms that result in drug resistance. These discoveries radically changed the clinical management of patients with CLL, shifting what was considered an “incurable” disease into a chronic condition.

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