Cancer Center: NCI Designation and Leadership
Guest: Dr. Jerry Reves – College of Medicine/Dean's Office
Host: Dr. Linda Austin –
Dr. Linda Austin: The
Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC has now been approved as a National Cancer
Institute designated center. As one of
only 64 such centers in the United States,
the designation confirms the exceptional research capabilities and achievements
of the Hollings Cancer Center. The designation also positions Hollings to
enhance its research opportunities and strengths in the future. Dr. Jerry Reeves reflects on the journey of
achievement that led to the designation.
Dr. Jerry Reves: It all
begins with leadership and we’ve had a series of leaders that have come in,
including Andrew Kraft, Carolyn Reed, who have positioned the Hollings Cancer
Center in an exciting
place so that we could be competitive nationally for this major award. And they did it by assembling good,
outstanding investigators and clinicians and putting them in a series of
modules, if you will, or a series of programs, such us, let’s say, breast
cancer, GI, or urological cancers. And
they do fundamental research in these disease-oriented entities and provide
first class clinical care. It starts
with leaders who develop particular programs, make sure we have excellent
people in those programs and then write it all up so that it is competitive in
a national grant.
Dr. Linda Austin: Dr. Reves
explains why the designation is so important for cancer research and for the
patients who come to MUSC from all over the country to receive special
Dr. Jerry Reves: First and
foremost, the designation of an NCI
opens up for our patients and our doctors access to the very latest protocols
available for the testing of new therapies in cancer. So, immediately, we will have access to
protocols that only a few places around the country have, and this is crucially
important to someone who’s got cancer and is having difficulty making progress
Secondly, it, of course, will provide money to help us have our
programs more robust so that it provides what we call infrastructure, to make
certain that the administrative parts of the cancer center are well-run and
well-funded. And, probably, the little
bit longer term but more important, maybe, than anything is with the
designation of NCI Cancer Center,
we will be able to recruit the very best doctors and scientists to the Hollings Cancer Center. And that, in the end, is the most important
thing, to have people who are attracted here because they know by the fact that
the NCI has designated this as a great place, they will come here, contribute
to it, make it even better.
Dr. Linda Austin: The
contributions of dozens, even hundreds, of doctors, researchers, nurses and
staff have made the designation possible.
Critically important to the healthcare team are those at the center, the
patients who participate in the clinical trials that may lead to cures, not
only for themselves, but for others with the same illness. Here are Dr. Reve’s thoughts about whom he
credits at the top of the list for the NCI designation.
Dr. Jerry Reves: I would
start with Senator Hollings. It was his
vision that South Carolina,
which has populations that are really suffering from cancer and other health
problems. Senator Hollings recognized
that, when he was in Washington as a U.S.
senator, around the country there were these National Cancer Institute centers
where the populations in those states could go to get the kind of care and the
kind of cures that were remarkable. So,
he thought that we needed that. He’d
done his tour of the state and found the ravages of cancer and other things, and
this was a high priority for him.
Next, I’m strong on leadership, and I think that the cancer center
directors, while I’ve been here, Carolyn Reed, first, who’s a thoracic surgeon,
outstanding surgeon, gets tremendous results, and she put her whole academic
career into the building and creating and setting up the cancer center so that
it could be ready for this designation.
She realized that the way it works is that almost all the NCI designated
cancer centers were led not by a cardiothoracic surgeon, but by a medical
oncologist. So, she realized that for us
to get to this status, it probably would be more expedient, let’s say, to have
an oncologist, so she suggested that we find one, and Andrew Kraft came
We recruited him [Kraft] from Colorado.
He had a singular vision about how to make Hollings Cancer
Center an NCI-designated
cancer center. He, clearly, was the
person for the job at that time and, in fact, he’s gone about it. We meet weekly and he has led to our current
position through extraordinarily good recruitment and organizational skills,
building on the platform that Carolyn Reed had laid.
Others have been important.
The Chairman of Medicine has been supportive of recruitment of
Oncology. We are fortunate to have a
Chairman of Surgery who is an oncologic surgeon, and he has been most helpful
in developing surgical programs. This is
not just medicine. This also requires
surgery. The Chairman of Urology is also
interested in urological cancers. I’m a
cancer survivor. He operated on me and I
know, up close and personal, about his ability and his interest. We have Radiation Oncology. Buddy Jenrette has come in and done a
remarkable job providing excellent clinical care and an interest in developing
This list goes on and on.
We have a lot people that have done this. But, really, in the end, it’s the scientists
in the laboratories and the clinicians in the clinics who have banded together
with a commitment unlike any I’ve seen in medicine, where it’s all about high
quality patient care and finding new cures for cancer. They work together and accomplish this.
Dr. Linda Austin: Dr.
Reves, thanks so much for talking with us.
Dr. Linda Austin: You’re
quite welcome, Linda.
information about treatment and clinical trials at Hollings Cancer
Center, please go to www.hcc.musc.edu.