In 2012 the leadership of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center endorsed a $2.2 billion investment in a clinical expansion that will set the stage for a changing care paradigm into the next decade and beyond.
This decision occurred against a backdrop of strong financial results, new clinical leadership, and new collaborative relationships. These actions position Memorial Sloan Kettering for a future in which we have every reason to believe we will witness historic progress against the complex set of diseases we know as cancer.
There are several tangible components of the clinical strategic plan, among them an outpatient cancer care building that we plan to develop along the FDR Drive at East 74th Street in conjunction with Hunter College of the City University of New York. The project, currently under review by city planning authorities, would enable us to provide cancer care in a facility designed to adapt to the ways in which cancer will be diagnosed and treated in the coming decades. We will provide leading-edge treatment for patients with hematologic cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, head and neck cancers, and thoracic cancers. In addition, the facility will support our efforts to provide bone marrow transplants in the outpatient setting and provide a focused environment for early-stage clinical trials. The Memorial Sloan Kettering building would be located next to the future home of Hunter College’s new Science and Health Professions building and its School of Nursing. The acquisition contract is contingent upon the necessary land use and zoning actions required for construction of the two proposed buildings.
Other elements of the capital program include the Josie Robertson Surgical Center on York Avenue, which will feature 12 operating rooms equipped to provide technologically sophisticated surgical care on an outpatient basis. The certificate of need was approved in 2012, the structure that was on the site has been demolished, and construction has begun. Also close to the main campus, Memorial Sloan Kettering is planning a new facility that will house a clinical laboratory and research building and will accommodate all specialized testing, along with a cell bank, a cell therapy facility, and tumor procurement services. Regional investments include a 114,000-square-foot ambulatory care facility in Harrison, New York, that will offer advanced cancer care to area residents, closer to home. A “topping-off” ceremony took place on December 20 as the final steel beam of the structure was hoisted into place.
These programmatic investments require leadership and vision. Our new Physician-in-Chief, José Baselga, joined us on January 1, 2013. An internationally recognized physician-scientist, he comes to us from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) where he was Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Associate Director of the MGH Cancer Center. Dr. Baselga is no stranger to Memorial Sloan Kettering. He completed a medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Hospital and remained as a faculty member on the Breast/Gynecology Service from 1994 through 1996, after which he returned to his native Spain. His responsibilities include the management of patient care delivery in Memorial Hospital as well as at Memorial Sloan Kettering clinics and regional sites. Dr. Baselga will also focus on clinical strategic planning and will oversee clinical and translational research. He succeeds Physician-in-Chief Robert E. Wittes, who stepped down after a decade of exemplary service.
Thomas J. Kelly, Director of the Sloan Kettering Institute for the past 11 years, announced that he would be stepping down as of March 1, 2013. He is returning to full-time research and will remain an Sloan Kettering Insititute faculty member. Dr. Kelly joined Memorial Sloan Kettering in early 2002 and led the largest expansion in Sloan Kettering Institutes’s history to broaden the scope of its basic and translational research activities and focus on the most promising areas of biomedical research as they relate to cancer. A search committee is actively recruiting his successor.
We are pleased with our financial results for 2012, particularly because our operating results for 2011 included non-recurring prior year gains. Our clinical volume continues to expand and, in a sign of our strength as an organization, Memorial Sloan Kettering was able to issue 40-year taxable debt at attractive rates — the first such issuance by a not-for-profit. These and other bond financing will be used for the major clinical expansion program that is currently under way.
At Memorial Sloan Kettering’s 33rd annual Academic Convocation in May, we celebrated an important milestone when the first four graduates of the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences received their PhD degrees. The school admitted its first class of six students in 2006 and has become one of the premier training grounds for cancer biology and a model for training biomedical scientists. Today, more than 50 students are engaged in thesis work in the laboratories of our faculty. Six more students will graduate in May 2013.
In a striking example of the integration of clinical studies and fundamental laboratory discoveries at Memorial Sloan Kettering, the US Food and Drug Administration announced in August that the drug enzalutamide had been approved for the treatment of men with metastatic prostate cancer. The results of a large, multicenter phase III study, led by an Memorial Sloan Kettering physician-scientist, showed that enzalutamide significantly increased survival in men with advanced disease. Investigators led by Howard I. Scher, Chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Genitourinary Oncology Service, first presented these findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in February 2012. Laboratory work conducted by Charles L. Sawyers, Chair of our Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, and colleagues was instrumental in the development of this novel therapy. The basic research that resulted in its development, and the collaborative efforts to bring that discovery into a clinical setting, will serve as a model for future drug development at academic institutions.
The excellence of our researchers and research community received a ringing endorsement from The Starr Foundation, which provided renewed support for The Starr Cancer Consortium and Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative totaling $105 million. The Starr Cancer Consortium is a collaboration among Memorial Sloan Kettering, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, The Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative is a collaboration among Memorial Sloan Kettering, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College.
Our clinicians and scientists received numerous awards and honors in 2012, far more than we could ever mention here, so we will single out just a few of the most significant. Structural Biology Program Chair Nikola Pavletich and Immunology Program Chair Alexander Rudensky were named members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The NAS is one of our country’s most prestigious scientific societies and election to its membership is one of the highest honors given to scientists working in the United States. Drs. Pavletich and Rudensky join the ten Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers who were already NAS members.
In addition, neuro-oncologist Lisa M. DeAngelis was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Dr. DeAngelis is Chair of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Department of Neurology and Co-Executive Director of the Brain Tumor Center. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. She joins Memorial Sloan Kettering’s 17 other IOM members.
In December, President Obama appointed Charles Sawyers as one of six new members of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB). Dr. Sawyers will serve on a body that advises on some of our nation’s most pressing issues in cancer research and treatment. In yet another honor, Dr. Sawyers was elected President of the American Association for Cancer Research, the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research.
And Clifford A. Hudis, Chief of the Breast Cancer Medicine Service, was elected President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s leading professional organization representing more than 30,000 physicians who care for people with cancer.
The many achievements and successes over the past year would have been impossible without the support of our staff, who performed exceptionally in every important area. The dedication, energy, compassion, and creative spirits of the men and women of Memorial Sloan Kettering are what power this extraordinary institution and make us thrive.
In the pages that follow, you will meet ten Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers — basic scientists and clinicians — all of whom are working to answer critical questions about cancer. Each one is making seminal contributions to the development of new and innovative therapies that will improve and prolong the lives of the patients we see today and those we will care for tomorrow.