Institution Spotlight: Main Line Health and Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

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Institution Spotlight: Main Line Health and Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

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By Paul B. Gilman, MD

Voting Member, ECOG-ACRIN Principal Investigator Committee and Director of the Clinical Research Center and Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Research, both at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving Philadelphia and its western suburbs, with a highly regarded cancer center integrated throughout its systemwide network. At Main Line Health's core are four of the region's most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital, and Riddle Hospital.

The cancer center at Main Line Health has accreditations from the Commission on Cancer, the Integrated Network Cancer Program, and other organizations. Each hospital maintains disease-specific workgroups, with involvement across departments, to develop and standardize clinical processes and initiatives.

Within Main Line Health is the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR), pictured. The Institute, founded in 1927, is a nonprofit biomedical research institute located at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and serves as the research division of Main Line Health. For all Main Line Health facilities, LIMR’s Clinical Research Center, which I lead, supports clinical studies on all disorders.

LIMR was the first research center in the nation dedicated primarily to the study of cancer, the first to study cancer as a problem of inflammation-associated growth, and the first to discover a genetic defect that contributed to a human cancer, thus launching the modern era of molecular genetics in oncology research.

The Center for Clinical Cancer Research, which I also lead, is part of LIMR’s Clinical Research Center. Faculty and staff are devoted to advancing innovative new approaches to cancer. My group oversees all cancer research trials. George Prendergast, PhD, president and CEO of LIMR, and the Havens Chair for Biomedical Research, is a co-director of the LIMR program in cancer research. LIMR’s cancer clinical trials focus on three primary approaches:

  • Novel trials of experimental therapeutics in oncology
  • Drug development in partnership with pharmaceutical companies
  • Investigator-initiated trials that relate to methods, tests, and drugs developed at LIMR

This institution’s involvement in ECOG-ACRIN started in 1973, and LIMR/Main Line Health has been a Standing Main Member since 1994. I am an active ECOG-ACRIN member, and represent the institution as a voting member of the Principal Investigator Committee. I also serve on the Nominating, Community Cancer, Breast Cancer, and Audit/Quality Control Committees. In addition, Tracey Evans, MD, is a member of the Thoracic Cancer Committee.

The oncology program at LIMR conducts clinical trials across its four hospitals, intending to reach its patient population where they are, rather than having them come to a central location. This approach helps increase the number of patients who participate in trials.

Main Line Health has an active and growing portfolio of more than 35 clinical trials across all disease types and solid tumors as well as hematological malignancies.

Following are two notable contributions to National Cancer Institute-funded trials in the National Clinical Trials Network:

A prominent groundbreaking clinical trial has LIMR well-poised for future ECOG-ACRIN trials. Marisa Weiss, MD, led the Coala-T-CBD study to characterize cannabis use among patients with breast, ovarian, uterine, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers, as well as assess the effect of hemp-based CBD products on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. The accrual of minority populations was significant, with 30% of the participants identifying as African American. This is one of the highest rates of minority accrual for a single study in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Learning through the conduct of this trial, LIMR is making strides toward increasing the participation of individuals from underserved and minority groups, including women, across its entire portfolio of studies.

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