Hollings Cancer Center NCI Designation and Leadership

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Hollings Cancer Center:  NCI Designation and Leadership




Guest:  Dr. Jerry Reves – College of Medicine/Dean's Office

Host:  Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry


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 treatment.


Dr. Jerry Reves:  First and foremost, the designation of an NCI Cancer Center 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 against it. 


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 in. 


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 new therapies. 


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.


For more information about treatment and clinical trials at Hollings Cancer Center, please go to www.hcc.musc.edu.


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