Announcement

On Cancer: Bold Initiative to Transform Cancer Care Established with a $100 Million Gift

We are thrilled to announce the creation of the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology (CMO), a unique and intensive endeavor to transform cancer care through genomic analysis of patient-derived tumors.

Named in honor of Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis and the visionary $100 million gift from their foundation, the CMO will enable Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers to speed the translation of new discoveries into routine clinical practice and reshape the design of clinical trials.

“Progress in our understanding of the biology of cancer has completely shifted the way we think about and treat cancer,” says Memorial Sloan Kettering President and CEO Craig B. Thompson. “We’re moving away from the concept of treating cancer as many different types of the same disease and toward treating each person’s cancer as its own unique disease. “

“The CMO is a bold initiative, a true transformational effort, that will bring genomic medicine to our patients,” adds José Baselga, Physician-in-Chief of Memorial Hospital. Ultimately, the goal of the new initiative is to fully deliver on the promise of personalized medicine by creating better treatment options for all people with cancer.

Commenting on the center, Mr. Kravis said, “Memorial Sloan Kettering has already proven itself to be a leader in understanding cancer at the genetic level and in putting that knowledge to work for patients. The new Center for Molecular Oncology will take these efforts to an entirely new level, and I look forward with great anticipation to the discoveries that lie ahead.”

Mrs. Kravis, who has been a member of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Boards of Overseers and Managers since October 2000 and is Chair of the Sloan Kettering Institute added, “Henry and I are delighted to support this exciting new initiative, which offers such hope to people around the world.”

New Opportunities for Personalized Treatment

“The mission of the Center for Molecular Oncology is to bring together a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, geneticists, cell biologists, and bioinformaticians to really try to get to the fundamental question of why a particular individual gets their cancer,” explains CMO Director David B. Solit.

The center’s faculty will undertake a vast, translational research program. For every type of cancer, archived tumor specimens and tissues obtained in clinical trials will be comprehensively profiled using cutting-edge DNA sequencing instrumentation and other technologies. The molecular information of each tumor will then be correlated with clinical data — such as the patient’s outcome and response to therapy — to identify the functional significance of genetic alterations in tumors and the opportunities they offer for treating cancer patients in a more individualized way.

“For some patients, this could be a game changer,” says Associate CMO Director Michael Berger. “We can find mutations in their tumor that suggest they are going to respond to a drug that the oncologist never would have thought to try.”

“We feel we are at the cutting edge of opportunity in science and medicine,” adds Sloan Kettering Institute Director Joan Massagué. “[The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation] is making it possible, with their generosity, to take a leap.”

Watch the video above to learn more about the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology. Read a Wall Street Journal article and a press release about the donation, and check back on our website soon for updates on our progress in finding more precise ways to diagnose and treat cancer. 

Comments

I am a Cancer survivor and I have few question about this research.
Is this research apply to all cancers or targeted to a specific kind?
Is this research had started only at the Sloan Kettering, or some other country have done that as well?
Are the medication FDA Approved? Is it covered by Insurance?

Hayedeh, thank you for interest in this endeavor! Scientists participating in our Center for Molecular Oncology will conduct research on all types of cancer, including both common and rare diseases, with special emphasis on cancers that are difficult to treat. Their goal is to gain knowledge about gene changes in tumor cells, and this knowledge will help doctors match future patients with the best drug available for their particular cancer. For some patients this might be an FDA approved drug. Other patients may be offered an experimental drug by enrolling in a clinical trial.

We are not the only ones doing this type of research. Similar efforts are taking place at some other institutions in the United States and around the world. That said, a number of things make our research program special and puts MSK in a unique position to make progress that will directly benefit patients. Among them are the vast scope of the CMO, our unmatched collection of tumor samples, and the breadth of our clinical expertise and clinical trials.

Hayedeh, we also reached out to our experts in pathology to find out if genomic profiling of tumors is covered by insurance. They say it varies depending on the insurance plan and the type of cancer. For certain cancers, genomic profiling is considered standard of care for selecting an appropriate targeted therapy, and some insurance plans do cover such testing. However, many insurance providers are still making coverage determinations because the technology is very new. For other cancers, genomic profiling tests are considered investigational and may be covered by clinical trials or research funds. Hope this information is helpful.

Wow - that generous donation can go a long way in doing a ton of good for those who are suffering. I hope it is spent well.

wow, what a wonderful gift. So many people will benefit from this generosity!! I was a patient at MSKCC in 1962 where Dr. George Pack performed what he call a "prophilatic operation" on my arm after I was sent there for a tiny malignant
melanoma. -I owe my life to him and MSKCC. I am now 79 and contribute a small amount to MSKCC each month. I wear a large scar on my arm proudly as a badge of thank you to Dr. Pack and MSKCC. Keep up the good work. You will find a cure!!!!!!!!! G-d Bless you all.

My boyfriend died of liver cancer in 2005. Hope this research helps.

I was a patient at MSKCC in 1964 at the age of 17. Due to the wonderful care by Dr. Harry Grabstald and Dr. Ted Miller I survived and have been living a full satisfying life. I will never forget how wonderful and caring the nurses and doctors were. Despite radical surgery, I recovered and got back to living.

Sloan Kettering has saved my sister and sister n law from breast cancer! I am eternally grateful. Thank you to all of the generous groups who contribute to Sloan and their cause. I believe they will find a cure and I pray for all who may be suffering at this time.

This is such exciting news. I hope the results will be shared and utilized by all cancer treatment centers. I have raised money for Fred's Team in the NYM in 2012. I pray for continued research to stop the barriers that prevent us from wiping cancer off the map. My mother died of a brain tumor at age 59, my father died at age 68 from lung and esophageal, my brother side at age 57 with cll, lymphoma, and ultimately metastatic thymic cancer, and my identical twin sister just died at age 54 with esophageal cancer. With an organization like this, I can live with HOPE and FAITH, that my children and there children will have a strong chance of surviving the previously unsurvivable. Thank you, and God bless you all. Kim Starr

The establishment of the Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology is very exciting news that brings hope to patients like me. The Kravis Foundation's magnificently generous gift to MSKCC enabling the creation of this state of the art Center is wonderful. May God bless Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis.

The care at Sloan is beyond belief, I witness every other week how many people are sick. It is truly scary, it literally put's a huge monkey wrench in anyone's happy life...I'm in a good place with Sloan giving my wife the best of care. This donation can only help them to excel in their goals to find cures. God Bless anyone who gives for any research by Sloan professionals. Or any other research for the ill.

I am so happy for that development I had a friend who died of breast cancer in that same hospital, sorry she did not get that opportunity. However others will when I see all the kids with various form of Cancer my heart break every time, that's why I also donate to the St Jude Children Hospital. God bless you all, keep up the good work he will continue to guide your healing hands.

Will results/findings/insights from the new Center be published and/or made available to physicians outside of MSK –– such as those monitoring my MDS at another Manhattan hospital?

Stu, we sent your question to Ross Levine, one of our experts in leukemia and MDS. He said that "we currently, through the Diagnostic Molecular Pathology lab, have a state-of-the-art test for patients with myeloid malignancies, including
MDS, which is available to patients who seek care at MSK. For patients outside MSK, we have helped the company Foundation Medicine develop a genomic test
for hematologic cancers that outside clinicians can access." Thank you for your comment.

How are individuals selected to participate in this research study? Is prostate cancer one of the cancers being studied?

James, thank you for your comment. We sent your questions to Dr. Solit, and he said, "All tumors types, including prostate cancer, are part of the initiative. Patients with prostate cancer are being selected for analysis by the clinicians who direct their care. If a patient with prostate cancer is interested in participating in this initiative, he should discuss this with an MSK medical oncologist. There is a unique challenge with prostate cancer in that it has a very long natural history making tissue collected at the time of primary surgery of little relevance to the disease that is present often many years later." If you would like to make an appointment with an MSK doctor, you can call 800-525-2225 or go to http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/appointment for more information.

What a wonderful Gift. Thank you to the doners.
To be at the front of technology in an continuing effort to save life.

Can you please let me know if you consider Langerhans Histiocytosis, as a genetic alteration in tumours or cysts?

Is this a cancer your clinic would consider?

Susan, Memorial Sloan Kettering is doing research to investigate the underlying genetic causes of different forms of histocytosis. You can read more about it here: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/adult/rare-blood-disorders/diagnosis-treatment-other-rare-blood-disorders Thank you for your comment.

My wife just died from a rare cancer, leiomyosarcoma. She was treated at Sloan for 3 years. I hope this donation leads to a cure from this terrible disease.

I have had metastatic breast cancer for six yeArs. Almost all treatments work until the cAncer changes and then they don't. will this research benefit those of us who have been "chasing" cancer. We really need some help. More of is are surviving cAncer only to find we have become chronically ill with a disease no one can help us with.

Dear Loos, we are sorry to hear about your diagnosis.

Scientists participating in our Center for Molecular Oncology will conduct research on all types of cancer, including both common and rare diseases, with special emphasis on cancers that are difficult to treat. Already in progress, one of the CMO’s first goals is to use the MSK-IMPACT test (new technology that can reliably and accurately screen for mutations in 341 cancer-associated genes) to sequence both healthy cells and tumor cells in all patients with metastatic disease.

According to CMO Director David Solit, “We are initially focusing our efforts on those patients who most urgently need better treatments. We hope to discover why their tumors spread and perhaps why they may have been predisposed to cancer in the first place. It’s likely that these discoveries will also lead to improved treatments for patients with earlier-stage disease because the same genetic markers may aid in the identification of patients who need more aggressive therapy upfront, or who can be spared certain treatments that offer no benefit.”

Thank you for your comment.

Can i send glass biopsy of GIST for genomic test profilir ?

Svetlana, if you would like to arrange to have someone from Memorial Sloan Kettering review a biopsy slide, you can call our Physician Referral Service at 800-525-2225. If you are outside the US and would like to arrange this, please contact our Bobst International Cancer at 1-212-639-4900 or international@mskcc.org, or go to http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/international-patients for more information. Thank you for your comment.

Over time,I was diagnosed with an overabundance of platelets..going from 450,000 to over 950,000 ...then I was asked by my oncologist if I would consider chemo-therapy because my bone marrow was affected and she suggested Hydroxyurea.....I would appreciate your opinions please.

Dear Gloria, unfortunately, we cannot answer personal medical questions on our blog. If you'd like to speak to a doctor at Memorial Sloan Kettering, you can call for an appointment at 800-525-2225 during regular business hours. Or you can find out more here: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/appointment. Thank you so much for reaching out.

I am very glad to be a patient at Sloan. I am on a trial and having very good results.

Is there a standard treatment for when clear cell renal carcinoma metastasizes to the lung or liver?

Dear Carolyn, you may be interested in reading about the various treatments available for people with advanced kidney cancer here: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/adult/kidney/treatment

If you would like to discuss which treatment options may be appropriate for you or a family member, please call our Physician Referral Service to make an appointment with one of our specialists. The phone number to call is 800-525-2225. Thank you for your comment.

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