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Dr. Angela Alistar, National Leader in Gastrointestinal Cancer Research, Joins Atlantic Health System Cancer Care as Medical Director, GI Medical Oncology

June 1, 2017

Dr. Alistar Led Newly Published Study of Promising Pancreatic Cancer Drug

June 1, 2017, Morristown, NJ – Nationally renowned gastrointestinal (GI) cancer researcher Angela Alistar, MD joins Atlantic Health System Cancer Care as medical director of GI medical oncology at Morristown Medical Center.  Dr. Alistar, a board-certified medical oncologist who specializes in translational research, has just published a pioneering study in The Lancet Oncology on an advanced, first-in-class drug that offers new hope for people with pancreatic cancer, one of the most difficult cancers to treat.

“Dr. Alistar is a leading figure in GI cancer research and treatment, and we enthusiastically welcome her to our Cancer Care team,” said Eric Whitman, MD, medical director, Atlantic Health System Cancer Care.  “She will significantly expand Atlantic Health System’s ability to offer participation in clinical trials for pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers, as well as the latest treatments, such as those that work with patients’ immune systems to destroy cancer cells.” 

Dr. Alistar comes to Atlantic Health System from the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where she led the GI oncology team, bringing cutting-edge treatments to patients. While there, she designed, secured funding for and conducted five investigator-initiated therapeutic clinical trials. At Wake Forest University she was the Principal Investigator of the Precision Oncology study that is poised to generate new hypotheses in the era of genomic driven clinical trials.

“When evaluating the best programs across the country to continue my work, I chose Atlantic Health System due to its leaders’ strong commitment to innovation, clinical research and patient-centered care and bringing the latest treatments to cancer patients,” said Dr. Alistar.  “I look forward to expanding treatment options for patients with pancreatic cancer and other GI malignancies, and to working in a multidisciplinary fashion with my new colleagues at Atlantic Health System Cancer Care to improve treatment outcomes and develop new standards of care.”

Study of Pancreatic Cancer Drug Provides Hope for Difficult-to-Treat Patients

In the new Lancet Oncology study, Dr. Alistar and colleagues conducted a Phase I clinical trial of CPI-613, in combination with a modified version of FOLFIRINOX, a current multidrug treatment regimen approved by the FDA for use in pancreatic cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas. The trial was designed to determine the maximum tolerated dose of CPI-613 when used in combination with the modified FOLFIRINOX regimen in patients with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. The study provided preliminary evidence of the drug combination’s efficacy, as well as demonstrating its safety and tolerability.

“This study gives me reason for hope,” said Dr. Alistar. “Patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer have a dismal prognosis, and the toxicity of current therapies limits their usefulness, underscoring the desperate need for safer, more effective treatments. That is why I have dedicated my career to helping find effective therapies for pancreatic and other difficult-to-treat GI cancers.”

Dr. Alistar will serve as the Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Philip Philip of Karmanos Cancer Center on a planned multi-center Phase II/III study of CPI-613 in combination with modified FOLFIRINOX for metastatic pancreatic cancer. She has led four other clinical trials of CPI-613 for GI cancers, as well as studies of other novel oncology drugs, and research to determine disease processes and genetic factors in cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. 

CPI-613, developed by New Jersey-based Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals, is a new type of medication known as an altered energy metabolism directed (AEMD) drug. It is the first anticancer drug of its kind. It is designed to disrupt the altered energy production pathways in cancer cells by selectively targeting a process in cell multiplication and survival. 

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, with a five-year survival rate of just seven percent. Fifty-three percent of patients are diagnosed with advanced disease.

Background on Dr. Alistar

Dr. Alistar’s primary focus at Wake Forest School of Medicine was on immuno-oncology and its application in treatment of gastrointestinal cancers of the pancreas, colon, rectum, bile duct and esophagus, as well as in treating melanoma. Her clinical research projects involved active collaborative efforts with other medical departments, such as radiation oncology and surgical oncology, as well as genetics.

An assistant professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest before joining Atlantic Health, she was also a member of the Translational Cancer Genomics Committee, the GI Tumor Board, Internal Medicine Grand Rounds Committee, and the Hepatobiliary Oncology Committee. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine, and the American Society of Hematology, among many other professional societies. She also serves as a member and advisor to several other health care organizations. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, in both internal medicine and medical oncology.

Dr. Alistar received her medical degree from University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj Napoca, Romania, and conducted her internship and residency at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, where she was chief resident. After her residency, she was a fellow in hematology and medical oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Tisch Cancer Institute. She currently serves as an ad hoc reviewer for JAMA and was recently the recipient of the Danny Danielson Translational Innovation Award for her dedication to clinical research.

Dr. Alistar is a physician with Atlantic Hematology Oncology at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center -Morristown Medical Center campus. Dr. Alistar can be reached at 973-971-7960.

Dr. Alistar is affiliated with Atlantic Medical Group, and is a participating provider in the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization.

* Data source:  American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2016. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2016.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey, is a leading non-profit health care delivery system in New Jersey. Our network includes Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ; Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ; Newton Medical Center in Newton, NJ; Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ; Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ; and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, as well as Atlantic Rehabilitation, and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. It also includes its subsidiary, Atlantic Ambulance Corporation. Atlantic Health System comprises 1,747 licensed beds, more than 14,000 employees and more than 4,000 physicians. Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University; is part of Atlantic Accountable Care Organization, one of the largest ACOs in the nation, and is a member of AllSpire Health Partners.