Investigating Cancer and Improving Care
Thanks to research, cancer patients have advantages that didn’t exist 20 years ago — or in some cases even a few months ago. The Wilmot Cancer Institute at URMC is the only cancer center in the region with a research focus. Our investigators work collaboratively in three main program areas: Hallmarks of Cancer (cancer biology), Microenvironment (the immune system and other tissues and cells interacting with tumors), and Cancer Control and Survivorship (symptom management).
Our biggest efforts include:
- Investigating the network of cell signals that drive cancer, and designing new treatments or finding existing drugs that interrupt cancer’s unique cellular network. In 2015 the National Cancer Institute endorsed our unique approach with a multimillion dollar award for several years of uninterrupted funding.
- Studying the immune system, how it responds to cancer, and how to improve immune-based therapies. In 2017 Wilmot Cancer Institute was among the first sites in the country to offer one of the newest FDA-approved immunotherapies, CAR T-cell therapy, to adults with aggressive lymphoma, and since then additional clinical studies offer immunotherapy to new groups of patients.
- The cells and tissues that surround tumors —the microenvironment—also promote cancer and can be targeted to stop or slow the disease. Our investigators, for example, are working on a combination of therapies that can attack pancreatic cancer cells and also harness the immune response to effectively fight the disease.
- Transitioning our own basic scientific research more quickly into clinical trials, and leveraging the best nationally available clinical studies to benefit our patients. For gynecologic malignancies, Wilmot investigators helped to develop a biomarker that distinguishes between ovarian cancer and cysts, and our team offers more NCI-endorsed clinical studies than any other place in the region.
- Understanding the relationship between aging and cancer, and studying the best ways to deliver care to older patients so they can maintain quality of life. In 2018, our investigators were part of the nation’s first team to deliver evidence-based geriatric oncology guidelines for oncologists when they are prescribing chemotherapy to vulnerable patients ages 65 and older.
- Supporting cancer patients before, during, and after treatment with studies that focus on reducing common side effects such as cancer-related fatigue, chemo-brain, neuropathy, and how to use nutritional supplements to improve health.
The Impact of Cancer Research