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News & Events

Loman receives Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award

Cancer research, as complex and technical an endeavor as it is, involves real people, and no matter what resources are expended, it is the human element that sustains it and propels it forward. HCRN annually recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to cancer research, patient care, and advocacy.

At a recent event, HCRN honored Rhoda Loman, clinical research specialist at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, with the 2017 Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award. The award was established in 2002 by HCRN co-founder William B. Fisher, MD, through the George and Sarah Jane Fisher Fund to honor the memory of Sandra Turner, HCRN’s first executive director. The award is given to those who exemplify the qualities Turner possessed and respected in others, such as sustained professional commitment, contribution to the progress of oncology care, and the unflinching touch of compassion.

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Reps for Research raises the bar for research funding

For the fourth consecutive year, Hoosier Cancer Research Network chairman Christopher A. Fausel, PharmD, is encouraging his friends, colleagues, and local businesses to support HCRN through a unique challenge event.

Fausel competes each year in the Arnold Sports Festival Pump & Run 5K in Columbus, Ohio, a combination event that includes bench-pressing and a 5K run. A dedicated fitness enthusiast, Fausel is passionate about advancing cancer research, and is inviting pledges in support of HCRN for every bench press “rep” he completes (maximum of 30) during the event on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Read More

HCRN seeks student intern

Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) is a not-for-profit oncology research organization which was founded in 1984 to bring oncology clinical trials to community oncology practices. In collaboration with academia, cancer consortia, and other research organizations, HCRN conducts multi-site oncology trials for all types of adult cancer. Currently, HCRN is seeking a graduate student intern with an interest in business, medical research, or computer science.

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The Art of Advocacy

“With cancer comes recognition of the fact that death is real, that you only are blest with so many days, and you only have so much time. But you also realize that you get to make choices about how you spend this measured time. When my diagnosis came, I decided how I wanted to spend this time — I chose advocacy and art. That was where I want to be, what I want to do.” Finding beauty in the midst of pain. It is a rare ability, but one that is not uncommon among a certain group of determined individuals: patient advocates.

“It is the beauty,” says Teresa Altemeyer. “When you soulfully paint someone’s eyes, you are trying to look as deeply as possible into a person and capture them. Likewise, when you are working with somebody who is a patient, you are trying to capture their essence, to answer questions that are profound.”

[Teresa is pictured with her husband, Don Altemeyer, and daughter Dana Altemeyer]

Teresa Altemeyer is a pillar in the Hoosier patient advocacy community and is the current board chair of the Indiana Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). HCRN recently honored Altemeyer with the Terry Hoeppner Patient Advocacy Award, named in memory of beloved Indiana University football coach Terry Hoeppner, who died from brain cancer in 2007. The award honors individuals who exhibit Coach Hep’s spirit and determination to champion their cause.

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HCRN honors four with annual awards

Hoosier Cancer Research Network honored four individuals for their outstanding contributions to clinical research and advocacy during its annual holiday and awards dinner Nov. 30 in Indianapolis. Read More

Award advances retrospective analysis of HCRN LUN14-179

Investigators working on the HCRN LUN14-179 study, which involved the use of concurrent chemoradiation with consolidation pembrolizumab for unresectable stage III non-small cell lung cancer, anticipated that some patients would experience pneumonitis. But they did not know which of their patients might be more susceptible than others.

To learn more about the rates of pneumonitis among study participants, and whether biomarkers could be identified that might predict whether a patient might be more susceptible, researchers at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center launched a retrospective analysis of the study data. Read More

Alistar a compassionate innovator in GI cancer research

Angela Alistar, MD, has long considered both the emotional and physical well-being of patients as mutually paramount. A medical oncologist with Atlantic Hematology Oncology, Atlantic Medical Group, and the medical director of GI Medical Oncology at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Dr. Alistar held this conviction even before she pursued a career in medicine.

“Throughout my training and my career I have gravitated towards trying to understand the impact that illness has on patients and their families,” Dr. Alistar said. “Oncology seemed the appropriate fit for me because patients with cancer have high emotional needs and require tremendous support from their families and from their doctors,” she reflects. “This is why oncology is my path in medicine.”

For Dr. Alistar, compassion walks hand-in-hand with scientific passion. Before assuming her current role, she developed a research portfolio for GI cancers at Wake Forest School of Medicine, including investigator-initiated studies and Phase I studies in pancreatic cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, and colon cancer.

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Gianaris Pancreatic Cancer Symposium is Nov. 16

The Indiana University School of Medicine will host the Andrea Gianaris Pancreatic Cancer Symposium on Thursday, Nov. 16, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Walther Hall, room 203. The half-day symposium is free and provides 3.5 CME credit hours.

The symposium features the leading pancreatic surgeon in the country, Keith Lillemoe, MD, chief of surgery at Massachusetts General and the Harvard Medical School. He previously led the Department of Surgery at IU School of Medicine. Gabriela Chiorian, MD, is also returning to IU to present oncology advancements in the treatment of pancreatic cancer and the science driving new therapies. Read More

Researchers test combination immunotherapy in mucosal melanoma

Mucosal melanoma is a rare form of cancer, constituting about 1 percent of all melanoma cases. The disease arises from the pigment-producing melanocytes present in the body’s mucosal tissue, and is most commonly found in the head and neck region, anorectal region, and female genital tract.

Unlike the far more common cutaneous melanomas, mucosal melanomas are not widely studied, and no accepted standard of care has been established. Recurrence rates, even for early-stage disease, approach 100 percent, underscoring the urgent need for effective therapies for this population.

A new study led by Robert R. McWilliams, MD, of Mayo Clinic, in collaboration with the Midwest Melanoma Partnership (MMP) and Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN), may provide valuable knowledge toward better understanding this disease. Read More

New study tests atezolizumab with or without bevacizumab in advanced bladder cancer

Each year in the United States, more than 70,000 patients are diagnosed with bladder cancer, and more than 14,000 will die from their disease. The current standard for treating bladder cancer involves chemotherapy, but this approach is not adequate for many patients, particularly those whose disease has metastasized, or spread to other parts of the body.

A new Hoosier Cancer Research Network study may help researchers determine whether a novel approach involving a combination of immunotherapy drugs might benefit patients with advanced disease who are not eligible to receive cisplatin-based chemotherapy.

[Arjun Balar, MD (pictured), of the New York University Langone Medical Center, is sponsor-investigator of the HCRN GU15-215 study.]

The randomized phase II study, known as HCRN GU15-215, involves the anti-PD-L1 antibody atezolizumab with or without bevacizumab, a VEGF-targeting antibody that may help to prevent the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumors. Bevacizumab may act in combination with atezolizumab to enhance the anti-tumor immune response. Read More

Hoeppner Award recipient Lutane knows what it takes to get the job done

Hoosier Cancer Research Network recently honored Billye Lutane with the Terry Hoeppner Patient Advocacy Award. Lutane is a buyer for University Hospital, Riley Hospital, and the IU Simon Cancer Center. But more than that, she is a pillar within IU Health, having served for 35 years.

Like past recipients of the Hoeppner award, Lutane has demonstrated that patient advocacy is not simply something to do; it is a way to do everything. It is not so much a profession as a calling. It is a calling answered by people of all backgrounds and professions. Read More

Caris Life Sciences selected to perform genomic profiling for UC-GENOME study

The Bladder Cancer Genomics Consortium (BCGC) and Hoosier Cancer Research Network today announced the selection of Caris Life Sciences® to perform genomic profiling for UC-GENOME, a large-scale genomically driven bladder cancer study.

The study, also known as HCRN GU15-217, is the first project of the BCGC, a collaborative effort between the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network and major medical centers recognized for their expertise in bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., with more than 79,000 new cases and 16,800 deaths estimated in 2017. Read More

Genomic analysis and biorepository research study takes aim at metastatic bladder cancer

Hoosier Cancer Research Network is partnering with the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) to conduct a large-scale bladder cancer genomic analysis and biorepository research study.

Known as UC-GENOME (HCRN GU15-217), the research study is the first project of the Bladder Cancer Genomics Consortium (BCGC), a collaborative effort between BCAN and major medical centers. The BCGC’s goal is to develop an enriched understanding of the genomic profile of bladder cancer to facilitate the development of novel therapeutics.

The research study is open to accrual at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Additional sites are expected to open soon. Read More

HCRN study tests mFOLFIRINOX combined with ramucirumab in advanced pancreatic cancer

Researchers investigating many types of cancers have celebrated significant breakthroughs over the years. Yet, some cancers lag well behind these successes.

Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most difficult to treat cancers. In 2016, about 53,000 new pancreatic cancer cases were diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 42,000 people died of their disease. Despite these statistics, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon.

Recent studies have shown that certain combination therapies can lead to improved outcomes over single agent therapy in pancreatic cancer. For example, a study of FOLFIRINOX (a combination of the drugs fluorouracil (5-FU), irinotecan, oxaliplatin, and leucovorin) was shown to improve one-year survival compared to gemcitabine alone.

As immunotherapies have gained prominence, pancreatic cancer researchers are now looking to take combination therapies to a new level. Read More

Study tests combination immunotherapy in advanced bile duct cancer

Cholangiocarcinoma, also known as bile duct cancer, is steadily rising in incidence worldwide. Symptoms often go undetected until the disease is far advanced. Surgical resection of tumors is considered the best approach toward attempting a cure, but less than half of patients whose tumors are surgically resected survive past five years, and those whose tumors are not surgically removed face a median survival time of just nine months.

A new Hoosier Cancer Research Network study may help researchers learn whether an investigational combination of immunotherapy drugs might lead to improvements in tumor response in cholangiocarcinoma patients who have received prior therapy for their cancer.

The study, known as HCRN GI16-263, is now open to accrual at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. Additional sites will open the study in the near future.

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Study tests nivolumab, ipilimumab in treatment-naive kidney cancer

Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) announces the opening of a study for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma who have not received prior treatment for their kidney cancer.

The phase II clinical trial, known as HCRN GU16-260, involves front-line therapy with nivolumab and salvage therapy with nivolumab and ipilimumab. The study may help researchers determine the activity of nivolumab, an agent already approved for patients with previously treated kidney cancer, in patients who have not received prior treatment.

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HCRN study compares sequence of immunotherapy and anti-angiogenic drugs in metastatic kidney cancer

A new Hoosier Cancer Research Network study may help researchers learn whether the order in which two drugs are given has any effect on progression-free survival — the length of time it takes for cancer to grow or spread.

The randomized phase II study, known as HCRN GU15-223, will compare overall progression-free survival for two groups of subjects with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). One group will receive first-line sunitinib, an anti-angiogenic drug, followed by second-line avelumab, an investigational immunotherapy drug. The other group will receive first-line avelumab followed by second-line sunitinib. Patients will have an equal chance of being randomized to either group.

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IUSCC highlights HCRN, Big Ten CRC in visit with acting director of NCI

The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center hosted Doug Lowy, the acting director of the National Cancer Institute, for a full-day visit on June 28.

(Photo: Drs. Bryan Schneider (left) and Milan Radovich (middle) explain their work on the next generation of personalized medicine with Dr. Doug Lowy, acting director of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Lowy visited the IU Simon Cancer Center on June 28. Photo credit: IU Simon Cancer Center)

In a series of small-group discussions in the morning, he met with cancer center members (members’ names appear in bold) and others to learn about:

  • Pediatric genomics with D. Wade Clapp, MD, and Jamie Renbarger, MD, MS
  • Breast cancer research program with Hari Nakshatri, PhD
  • Komen Tissue Bank at IU Simon Cancer Center with Anna Maria Storniolo, MD
  • Precision health with Bryan Schneider, MD, and Milan Radovich, PhD
  • Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium and the Hoosier Cancer Research Network with Bert O’Neil, MD, Cynthia Burkhardt, RN, and Chris Fausel, PharmD
  • Kenya and cancer with Patrick Loehrer, MD, Bob Einterz, MD, and Terry Vik, MD

In the afternoon, Dr. Lowy presented “NCI-supported Research: Concepts, Opportunities, and Applications” to cancer center members and others. Watch.

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Richardson brings relentless dedication to patient care

The Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award was established in 2002 by Dr. William B. Fisher through the George and Sarah Jane Fisher Fund to honor the memory of Sandra Turner, the first executive director of Hoosier Cancer Research Network. Each year the organization selects individuals for the award who exemplify the qualities Sandra possessed and respected in others, such as sustained professional commitment, contribution to the progress of oncology care, and the unflinching touch of compassion.

Stacey Richardson, RN, BSN, was honored as a recipient of the Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award in 2016. Richardson is a clinical research coordinator with Community Health Network. Her story illustrates how a spark of compassion becomes a flame.

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Three HCRN studies accepted to ASCO 2017

Abstracts from three Hoosier Cancer Research Network studies were accepted to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2017 Annual Meeting, June 2-6 at the McCormick Place in Chicago. The studies include LUN14-179 (poster session and discussion), GU14-206 (poster session and discussion), and GI14-186 (poster session). Read More

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