Wilmot Cancer Institute Completes Final Hurdle in NCI Designation Process

Jan. 31, 2022

A leadership team at Wilmot Cancer Institute spent six hours on Wednesday with 15 virtual reviewers from the National Cancer Institute to complete our virtual site visit for NCI designation. The meeting opened with the video below, giving NCI reviewers their first glimpse into the Wilmot Cancer Institute and the community it serves. Thirty Wilmot team members participated in the site visit, including the executive committee, research program and shared resource leaders, assistant directors, and the administrative team. The group answered dozens of detailed questions on all aspects of Wilmot ranging from institutional commitment to cancer focus and transdisciplinary collaboration.

The team at Wilmot who presented to the National Cancer Institute on Jan. 26.

It's been a long road for the Wilmot team as they've spent countless hours writing, polishing, and practicing presentations and question-and-answer sessions with the end goal to convey to the reviewers that Wilmot is energized, operationally sound – and worthy of this important achievement. Wilmot has transformed since this process began, revitalizing its footprint to meet strict NCI standards with a more robust Community Outreach and Engagement office, a stronger cancer research training program and enhanced administration and overall organizational capabilities, which are all reviewed as part of the grant.

Being designated by the NCI as one of the country's elite centers is an extraordinary honor that opens doors to many opportunities in research and patient care. The virtual site review was the last step in a more than 5-year process to build the case for NCI Designation. Wilmot is the only new cancer center vying for designation this year, and the only new cancer center to have gone through the process completely virtually. A final decision from the NCI on whether Wilmot will become the 72nd designated center in the U.S. is expected by early summer.

Getting to this point was a true collaborative, team effort. Starting with the full support of University leadership, Wilmot leaders also have relied on teams throughout the cancer center: clinicians, nurses, and coordinators who have worked hard to enroll more patients in clinical trials, essential for NCI designation; regional faculty and staff, and inpatient and outpatient care teams, who are performing admirably despite Covid stresses; research faculty, trainees, and staff who are continuing their investigations, writing new grants, and exploring new collaborations; and the community outreach faculty and staff who are busy planning new events for 2022.

"I take tremendous pride on behalf of our entire team on what we've accomplished," says Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., Director, Wilmot Cancer Institute. "We are a better, stronger, smarter cancer center having gone through this process."

Read more about Wilmot's journey to NCI designation in a Q&A with Dr. Friedberg in the latest issue of Dialogue.