Miami Cancer Institute Joins the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance


Today, after a yearlong review and collaborative process, Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida became a full member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance. Miami Cancer Institute is the third member of the MSK Cancer Alliance, a transformative initiative that aims to improve the quality of care and outcomes for people with cancer in community settings. Leaders from both organizations will make the announcement at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Miami Cancer Institute’s new 445,000-square-foot facility, which integrates cancer care across their organization into a single state-of-the-art setting.

The dynamic and forward-thinking collaboration fostered by the MSK Cancer Alliance will enhance Miami Cancer Institute’s clinical research capabilities as well as its delivery of world-class, evidence-based cancer care. There are three key ways patients receiving care at Miami Cancer Institute directly benefit from this unique relationship:

  • Adoption of MSK standards of care into everyday practice. MSK is a world leader in setting the highest standard of oncology care. During the last year, those standards have been shared with and integrated by Miami Cancer Institute. By keeping up to date with the latest innovations, Miami Cancer Institute’s clinical experts make treatment decisions for their patients based on the best and most current evidence available.  
  • Integrated learning. Oncologists from both institutions regularly meet to discuss challenging cases and identify the best course of treatment for patients. Membership in the MSK Cancer Alliance also provides Miami Cancer Institute physicians with educational opportunities at MSK’s Manhattan facilities to observe new cancer treatment techniques and approaches.
  • Access to key MSK clinical trials. Cancer clinical trials can give patients the opportunity to receive drugs or therapies years before they are available anywhere else. Plans are under way to open several MSK trials at Miami Cancer Institute as early as this month. Opening these MSK trials helps speed up the data-collection process so investigational therapies can be approved faster and become available sooner to even more patients.

“For more than a century, Memorial Sloan Kettering has relentlessly sought to eradicate cancer through scientific discovery and exceptional, patient-focused care,” said Craig B. Thompson, MD, President and CEO of MSK. “This goal will only be realized through collaborative sharing of knowledge and best practices with like-minded partners, such as Miami Cancer Institute, while learning from them as well. This new model of collaboration will continue to evolve but will always benefit patients first and foremost by making the highest-quality cancer care widely accessible.”

“Like Memorial Sloan Kettering, Miami Cancer Institute is committed to delivering the highest levels of innovation and excellence in cancer care,” said Brian E. Keeley, President and CEO of Baptist Health South Florida. “Our collaboration with MSK will allow patients from our area, and from the surrounding regions both domestically and internationally, to have access to some of the most advanced therapies, groundbreaking technologies, and world-renowned physicians close to home. We are proud to be able to deliver this level of cutting-edge, compassionate care to our community.”

“The highest-quality cancer care cannot be achieved by adhering to practice recommendations alone,” said MSK Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer José Baselga, MD, PhD. “We must close the years-long knowledge gap between the newest innovations in cancer care and older standards of care that persist in community oncology settings. This is the challenge the MSK Cancer Alliance seeks to overcome. Miami Cancer Institute is an ideal partner for this challenge because of its commitment to delivering innovation and precision in cancer care to the South Florida community, its renowned focus on patient experience, and its ability to attract top-notch oncology specialists from across the country.”

“Miami Cancer Institute brings new treatment options, cutting-edge technology, and pioneering clinical research to South Florida, including access to Memorial Sloan Kettering’s world-renowned clinical trials and standards of care,” said Michael J. Zinner, MD, Founding CEO and Executive Medical Director of Miami Cancer Institute. “This collaboration — when combined with our team of preeminent cancer experts who work together to develop the best care plans for each patient — establishes Miami Cancer Institute as the region’s premier, hybrid academic-community cancer center.”

As an MSK Cancer Alliance member, Miami Cancer Institute will share educational resources with MSK and other members, including hosting the second MSK Cancer Alliance continuing medical education symposium, “Frontiers in Oncology,” on Friday, January 27, and Saturday, January 28, in Coral Gables.

The day-and-a-half symposium will feature a Friday-morning keynote address from Dr. Baselga on the state of genomics in cancer care and research. Other leading experts from MSK and MSK Cancer Alliance members will highlight a spectrum of oncology topics, from innovations in current oncology practice to ongoing research. Attendees will have the opportunity to review novel technological and therapeutic approaches to challenging clinical problems, with an emphasis on understanding the evidence supporting these approaches.

The program is intended for all MSK Cancer Alliance healthcare professionals involved in the care of oncology patients, including surgeons, medical oncologists, research nurses, genetic counselors, pharmacists, radiologists, and palliative care providers, among others.

Such unprecedented levels of knowledge sharing — multiplying each time a member joins the MSK Cancer Alliance — support the rapid application of the latest and most effective cancer treatments in community settings.

The Impetus Behind the MSK Cancer Alliance

MSK’s desire to create and grow the MSK Cancer Alliance was fueled in part by an Institute of Medicine report that described the many challenges of delivering high-quality cancer care as a “national crisis” – due primarily to the growing demand for cancer care, increasing complexity of treatment, a shrinking healthcare workforce, and rising costs.

While advances in cancer science are occurring at an ever-increasing rate, the uptake of these lifesaving breakthroughs in clinical practice is slowed by the enormous amount of resources and time required to implement them. Unfortunately, this is particularly the case in the community setting, where the majority of cancer care today — more than 80 percent — is delivered in the United States.

MSK established the MSK Cancer Alliance as a way to quickly move innovative, evidence-based cancer care into the community setting and enable bidirectional learning across institutions. This is achieved, in part, by educating faculty on the newest cancer treatment approaches and evidence, implementing the highest-quality standards of care at member sites, and better understanding how care is delivered in the community. As a result of this strategy, MSK Cancer Alliance members have adopted pioneering techniques — such as testing for NRAS mutations in patients with colon cancer and using sentinel lymph node mapping to surgically stage endometrial cancer — faster than other community providers and before these techniques became care standards of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

This solid foundation allows clinical trials of leading-edge therapies to open at member sites, providing patients access to previously unavailable treatment options. To date, more than a dozen of MSK’s therapeutic clinical trials have opened in member site communities. Genomic sequencing has also become available to patients through the MSK-IMPACT™ test.

“Our goal is to rapidly accelerate the pace of integrating the latest advances in cancer care into a community setting,” said Richard R. Barakat, MD, Deputy Physician-in-Chief of MSK’s Regional Care Network and MSK Cancer Alliance. “This unprecedented approach has and will continue to demonstrate real value to all involved and, most importantly, to improve the lives of people with cancer. Our collaboration is designed to adapt and respond to the particular needs of each member institution’s clinicians and patients, so we evolve together with the ever-changing practice of oncology.”

Membership in the MSK Cancer Alliance also demonstrates member institutions’ desire to make education a priority for their communities. As the MSK Cancer Alliance continues to grow, educational programs and opportunities for the general public and professional audiences are made available on-site at member institutions.

Connecticut’s Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute was the charter member of the MSK Cancer Alliance in 2014, followed by Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley Health Network Cancer Institute in 2016, and now, Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida, in 2017. In total, these three MSK Cancer Alliance members see more than 13,000 new analytic cancer cases per year.