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New Jersey’s First National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Awarded to Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium

August 20, 2019

Covering 73% of New Jersey’s population, Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium Community Oncology Research Program offers new cancer prevention, care delivery, and treatment studies at leading healthcare systems across the state

Summit, NJ – The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has designated Atlantic Health System as a National Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) site of the Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium (AHCC). As the first and only New Jersey-based NCORP, AHCC will help develop and implement NCI cancer prevention, screening, care delivery, and treatment studies with leading healthcare systems across the state. The major health systems and medical centers throughout New Jersey that make up the AHCC NCORP include:

Atlantic Health System will serve as the lead affiliate for NCORP Community Site activities, providing the scientific leadership and central support personnel necessary to accomplish the AHCC NCORP objectives. Atlantic Health System leadership includes experienced cancer investigators in both adult and pediatric cancers with unique expertise that span the cancer continuum.

“As the first National Cancer Institute NCORP site based in New Jersey, we will expand the NCORP network coverage by 6.5 million people,” said Missak Haigentz, MD, medical director of Hematology and Oncology for Atlantic Health System and principal investigator for AHCC NCORP. “We are proud to partner with these leading healthcare organizations, each of which has its own unique strengths and patient populations. This will be an exceptional and unprecedented cancer care consortium for New Jersey, which has a diverse population and higher rates of adult and childhood cancer than the nation as a whole.”

The incidence of cancer in New Jersey is 477.5 cases per 100,000 versus 441.2 cases per 100,000 nationally. Warren (511.5/100,000) and Monmouth (497.8/100,000) counties have even higher cancer rates, while the pediatric cancer rate for New Jersey is above the national average at 17.1 versus 16.3 cases per 100,000.

The grant will enable all sites in the AHCC NCORP to participate in additional cutting-edge research from the NCI and National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN), and will significantly enhance access to these trials for cancer patients throughout New Jersey. The clinical trials will focus on cancer control, prevention, screening, care delivery, treatment and medical imaging, and many will include a quality-of-life component. These studies will also incorporate the needs of diverse populations and will be integrated with cancer disparities research.

“Ultimately, the AHCC NCORP presents a substantial opportunity to advance scientific understanding in cancer prevention, screening, control, treatment and care delivery research within a large and diverse population,” said Dr. Haigentz. “We will also be part of a nationwide integrated network of community-based cancer programs that will collaborate, analyze and share data through the NCORP Research Bases.”

Specific goals of the consortium will be to increase adult and pediatric participation in the above-referenced types of NCI and National Clinical Trials Network clinical trials, including members of groups that are currently underrepresented in clinical trials, such as ethnic and racial minorities. The consortium will also collect tissue samples in order to support advances in genomics and molecularly targeted therapies.

Additional goals include enhancing community involvement and the involvement of community-based physicians in cancer control, prevention and care delivery research through a variety of targeted community outreach and engagement efforts, and to support and mentor community oncologists and other medical specialists.

The consortium will also help develop and implement clinically significant studies that incorporate the unique research needs of New Jersey’s diverse population. A special emphasis will be placed on involving non-English speaking individuals.

“Clinical advancements in prevention and treatment approaches must benefit all cancer patients. The best way to make that a reality is to ensure clinical research is conducted in diverse populations—both ethnic and geographic diversity,” said NCI Acting Director Douglas R. Lowy, MD. “Communities of color and rural communities face disadvantages in access to cutting-edge cancer care. We believe that clinical trials provide access to high quality cancer care. NCORP enables us to make this available to more communities.”

NCI grants went to 32 Community Sites and 14 Minority/Underserved (M/U) Community Sites, who have assembled more than 1,000 affiliates across the country to carry out cancer research. The NCORP network now covers 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam, the largest geographic coverage in the program’s history.

Clinical trial enrollment in the AHCC NCORP began August 1, 2019.

About AHCC NCORP

The Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium Community Oncology Research Program (AHCC CORP) is the first and only New Jersey-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). Combining the collective strengths of world-class healthcare systems with community oncology care delivery, the consortium includes Atlantic Health System, CentraState Healthcare System, Holy Name Medical Center, Hunterdon Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health and Saint Peter’s Healthcare System. Atlantic Health System will serve as the lead affiliate for NCORP Community Site activities, providing the scientific leadership and central support personnel necessary to accomplish the AHCC NCORP objectives. Atlantic Health System leadership includes experienced cancer investigators in both adult and pediatric cancers with unique expertise that span the cancer continuum. The overall goals of the consortium are to improve and extend the lives of New Jerseyans with cancer and reduce disparities by providing access to leading edge clinical trials in community settings. The consortium covers nearly three-quarters of the state and 6.5 million people.

NCORP is a community-based cancer research network of the National Cancer Institute with sites throughout the country. The network designs and conducts clinical trials and other cancer studies involving adults and children. These studies focus on cancer control, prevention, screening and care delivery, as well as quality-of-life research embedded within the treatment clinical trials. NCORP and its sites incorporate the needs of diverse populations such as children, adolescents and young adults; the elderly; racial and ethnic minorities; sexual and gender minorities; and rural residents into studies and take steps to enhance participation of these groups. NCORP also enhances patient and provider access to treatment and imaging trials conducted under NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network. In addition, NCORP integrates cancer disparities research within the community research network.

About Atlantic Health System Cancer Care

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care offers an unparalleled network of cancer specialists and resources for more than 6000 newly diagnosed cancer patients annually through its flagship Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown and Overlook medical centers, as well as its comprehensive oncology programs at Chilton, Hackettstown and Newton medical centers. With more than 250 cancer specialists, all five hospitals and Atlantic Medical Group are designated Blue Cross Blue Shield ‘Blue Distinction Centers,’ and participate in The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Oncology Care Model that supports and encourages higher quality care. Morristown and Newton medical centers earned the coveted American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award and, along with Overlook and Chilton, earned Three-Year Approval with Commendation. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Atlantic Health System hospitals as high performing in colon cancer surgery, lung cancer surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, and pulmonology. In 2019, Morristown Medical Center (#28) and Overlook Medical Center (#98) were rated as some of the best hospitals in the entire United States by Newsweek in its inaugural hospital rankings.

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is affiliated with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, Arizona, and together they have created the Breakthrough Oncology Accelerator, a pioneering research and clinical collaboration designed to improve patient access to the most innovative and sophisticated therapies for cancer.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: 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.

In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers comprising one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey - Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners, which work to enhance patient care delivery.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health needs, including 12 urgent care centersAtlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability, and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system expanding access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.