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Grant Awarded to Rutgers Cancer Institute Augments Clinical Trial Access for Adolescent and Young Adult Patients

$50K from St. Baldrick’s Foundation enhances clinical research nurse support
November 8, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. – According to the National Cancer Institute, adolescents and young adults (ages 15 to 39) account for about five percent of all cancer diagnoses in the United States. This is about six times the number of cancers diagnosed in children (ages 0 to 14). Clinical trial access is important for this population, but challenges often exist. To help address these concerns, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey will utilize a $50,000 infrastructure grant from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to provide additional support for a clinical research nurse dedicated to the needs of adolescents and young adults. It is the third such grant in recent years from the Foundation to support the program.

“Adolescents and young adults can be a vulnerable population, as sometimes they are not deemed eligible for a clinical trial that could benefit their disease simply because of an age cut-off,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinical Section Chief Richard Drachtman, MD, who is the principal investigator of the award. “By having additional support for a clinical research nurse, our team can enhance its focus on these patients ensuring they are matched appropriately to protocols that may provide the best outcomes. We are grateful to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for its continued support of our program in helping to address the challenges of this population,” adds Dr. Drachtman, who is also a professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. 

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute provides access to both pediatric and adult clinical trials that are developed by on-site investigators and are offered through collaborative partners such as the NCI, Children’s Oncology Group and Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium among others.

“Rutgers Cancer Institute is unique in that our adult and pediatric oncology programs are structurally integrated allowing for greater clinical and research collaboration to more readily identify adolescent and young adult patients,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Division Chief and Embrace Kids Foundation Endowed Chair in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Peter D. Cole, MD. “Despite this infrastructure, enrolling this population on appropriate clinical trials remains a challenge.  Having a dedicated clinical research nurse to address this obstacle is imperative to expanding clinical trial access for this group. We thank the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for supporting our team in fulfilling this need,” adds Dr. Cole, who is also a professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Along with serving as a liaison and a general resource to clinicians and researchers across Rutgers Cancer Institute, the dedicated clinical research nurse will assist adolescent and young adult patients seeking information on fertility preservation which is another challenge faced by this population.

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, along with its partner RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy and CAR-T cell therapy.  Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities.

Along with world-class treatment, which is often fueled by on-site research conducted in Rutgers Cancer Institute laboratories, patients and their families also can seek cancer preventative services and education resources throughout the Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health footprint statewide. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit www.cinj.org/giving.

About St. Baldrick’s Foundation

As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is leading the change to take childhood back from cancer. St. Baldrick’s funds some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts who are working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at StBaldricks.org to help support the best childhood cancer research, no matter where it takes place.

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