(Approved by the Board of Regents, 1991)
Augusto Ochoa, MD, Director
The Louisiana Board of Regents approved the formation of the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center (SSSCC) in 1991. The Center is a multidisciplinary matrix organization, drawing membership and expertise from every school within the LSU Health Sciences Center and other affiliated institutions throughout Louisiana. The Center is part of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center, which also includes the Cancer Center at Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Xavier University, and the Ochsner Medical Center.
The Stanley Scott Cancer Center (SSSCC) has as its mission, “decreasing cancer incidence and mortality in the state of Louisiana with particular emphasis on those citizens in the greatest need, the medically underserved and minority population”. The Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center (SSSCC) of LSU Health New Orleans created the Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology (DIO) with the goal of recruiting highly qualified, funded cancer investigators in a variety of cancer-related disciplines. This effort focuses on the promotion and creation of specialized research teams and will draw funded faculty/investigators from a broad variety of disciplines and clinical translational specialties who are focused on cancer research. These will bring research findings from the laboratory to the clinic and enhance patient care. The Center also supports patient care through state-of-the-art clinical trials, and engages the community through various community-based participatory research projects. Our various funded programs and individual grants held by our faculty offer formal educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, medical students, residents, fellows and other health care professionals. MD/PhD and PhD students are mentored by our faculty as part of their formal training. In addition, we offer mentored training in cancer research to residents and fellows from various surgical and medical disciplines. Our NIH-funded Short-term Experiences in Cancer Research is conducted annually during the summer months and offers a 2-month training in cancer research to undergraduate students and medical students.
The SSSCC continues to enhance continuing education and foster collaboration, these efforts are reflected in the expansion of training grants. These include:
a. A COBRE titled “Center of Excellence in Viral Oncology”, which has provided training and education to young investigators throughout the state and has supported the submission of new publications and grants to federal funding agencies.
b. Expansion of the existing COBRE titled “Mentoring Translational Researchers in Louisiana”, which also trains junior investigators who are all publishing their work and preparing grant applications.
c. New P20 grant titled “Understanding and Addressing Cancer Health Disparities in Louisiana”, which also trains new faculty investigators who are developing highly translational research in breast and colorectal cancer.
d. In addition, the Guest Speakers Series program invites both domestic and international scientific and clinical leaders to present their work and interact with SSSCC researchers to exchange scientific knowledge and establish collaborations. Many of these internationally recognized speakers are now part of our External Advisory Committees (EACs) for the major grants. Currently, SSSCC faculty members hold over $20 million in annual funding for their research projects.
The SSSCC has been developed over the years using the programmatic requirements of the NCI Designated Cancer Center. The NCI requires three fully developed research programs including Basic Science (Cancer Biology), Population Sciences and Clinical and Translational Research, which are built around areas of strength among faculty and researchers. Support to researchers is provided in many forms, including several core facilities, such as Genomics, Proteomics, Immunology, Imaging, tissue biorepository and Biostatistics/Bioinformatics. In addition, faculty benefit from a dedicated clinical trials office and a grants and development office that assists with strategic development of proposals as well as with the application processing and award management. The Center is actively enhancing its translational and clinical research programs to complement its strong basic science component.
Through our award-winning Gulf South Clinical Trials Network (Gulf South CTN), physicians and investigators at the SSSCC, in collaboration with physicians at Feist Weiller Cancer Center, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and Ochsner Cancer Center, have established the Gulf South CTN to offer NCI supported clinical trials to patients in Louisiana. Through 44 different clinic locations in the state, patients have access to national cancer prevention/control and treatment trials. In 2018-2019 the Gulf South CTN enrolled over 1500 patient on clinical trials throughout the region. The National Cancer Institute renewed this program in 2019 for $13.7 M over the next six years. We plan to expand the reach of this program through partnerships with community organizations, such as the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). The SSSCC also continues to expand pharmaceutical trials. Many of the new drugs discovered by investigators in academic research facilities are fully developed in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry that provides access to larger quantities of purified novel drugs that can be tested in clinical trials. Having a strong partnership with the pharmaceutical industry, both in research and clinical testing, is also an important characteristic of a strong NCI Designated Cancer Center.
The SSSCC is developing Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials. Results from ongoing federally funded research and the P20 grant have identified new candidate drugs that can be tested in novel clinical trials. New drugs for cancer are developed through unique clinical trials that test the safety and efficacy of these novel treatments. This program is in its early stages and will benefit greatly from the expanded programs proposed for NCI designation.
The AIDS Malignancy Consortium (AMC) was founded to support innovative trials for AIDS-associated malignancies. In 2012, through an AARA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) supplement, the SSSCC clinical trials program (MBCCOP) applied for and obtained membership into the NCI-funded AIDS Malignancy Consortium (AMC), a research base for prevention and treatment trials for HIV/AIDS and related co- morbidities. Similarity, our HIV biorepository became a developing site within the NCI-funded AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource (ACSR). This is highly significant given the fact that New Orleans and Baton Rouge are the second and third cities in the United States with the highest incidence of HIV infection, which affects primarily minority and underserved populations. These patients are more susceptible to virus related malignancies such as HPV-related cervical, head and neck cancer, Hepatitis B-related liver cancer, lymphomas, and Kaposi’s sarcoma. The program has created unique clinical capacity and a large biorepository of samples available for research. In addition, the program has developed a website to provide information to clinical providers, navigators and patients.
The Center for Translational Viral Oncology (COBRE), a program project funded by the NIH was awarded to strengthen biomedical research infrastructure at LSUHSC and to support a group of promising junior investigators (PJIs) focused on virus-associated cancers. This will be accomplished by establishing a thematic multi-disciplinary Center for Translational Viral Oncology (CTVO). The CTVO will support the scientific and career development of five PJIs who have a strong interest in the clinical translation of their most promising basic research findings to offer new directions for virus-associated cancer therapies and prevention. The CVTO has three major components.
- Mentoring teams composed of NIH-funded and internationally recognized scientists in the areas of virology and/or cancer research, as well as clinical mentors who have both research experience and active medical practices related to oncology and/or virology. These teams will interactively guide PJIs in the development of cutting edge projects dedicated to understanding the mechanistic role of viruses in cancer with special emphasis on clinical relevance;
- Use of clinical material from a high-risk patient population - PJIs will have preferential access to a unique set of clinical data and biospecimens collected from cancer patients from multiple hospitals in the region, and HIV-infected patients from the LSUHSC HIV Outpatient (HOP) Clinic;
- Integration of the CTVO with the existing research and clinical infrastructure at LSU Health and development of two new state-of-the-art research core facilities serving the CVTO and other COBREs in the state of Louisiana. Specifically, the program brings together three major projects (Tier 1 projects), and two pilot projects (Tier 2 projects) led by PJIs and guided by their mentoring teams. These projects will focus on well-established oncogenic viruses which are either etiologic agents or associated with malignances of primary interest to patients in Louisiana, including Kaposi sarcoma (KSHV), lymphoma (KSHV and EBV), anogenital, head and neck, and cervical cancer (HPV), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCV), colon cancer (CMV), and brain tumors (JCV). These programs leverage strengths of the leading academic health centers in Greater New Orleans: LSU Health, Tulane Medical Center, and Ochsner Medical Center, as well as the Louisiana Cancer Research Center (LCRC), which is home to collaborative research for these three institutions. Most importantly, this research is directly relevant to the patient population in Louisiana (including the greater New Orleans area) which is comprised largely of persons of African descent disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic and for whom significant health disparities exist for virus-associated cancers in this setting.
Understanding and Addressing Cancer Health Disparities in Louisiana (P20 - Pre-SPORE) is also a NIH funded program project. Cancer health disparities disproportionately affect the minority and underserved populations in the Gulf South region. Malignancies such as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), hepatocellular carcinoma, endometrial cancer, advanced prostate and kidney cancer have a high incidence and mortality in Louisiana. Socioeconomic determinants and access to health care may in part explain some of these inequalities. However, recent data suggest that genomics, inflammation and other biological factors may in part explain poor response to existing treatments and thus the poor outcomes. Under the leadership of SSSCC, there was a convening of investigators in the region conducting research on cancer health disparities to establish the Gulf South Center for Research and Solutions in Cancer Health Disparities (Gulf South-CARES-CHD). To ensure success in this initial P20 planning grant, SSSCC will focus on areas of research strength in one disease, which clearly represents a cancer health disparity. TNBC is a genetically heterogeneous, clinically aggressive malignancy that represents 15-20% of breast cancers in women. TNBC has a higher incidence and mortality in African-American (AA) women. The higher mortality rate remains a major health disparity even when controlling for the type of treatment, with 5-year survival rates around 14% in AA compared to 37% for non-Hispanic white women. Although the reasons are likely multifactorial, it is proposed that the decreased survival may in part result from the lower efficacy of current neoadjuvant chemotherapies, which worsens the outcome of this disease. A large fraction (~60%) of TNBC cases are poorly responsive to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (i.e. do not achieve a pathological complete response - PCR) and have dismal long-term prognoses. This health disparity may in part be explained by tumor genetics, inflammation and environmental factors. These elements in Louisiana TNBC patients will be studied to develop new diagnostic and/or therapeutic tools that help improve the outcome of these patients. The large population of AA patients with TNBC in Louisiana therefore presents a unique opportunity to study the disease. Data supports the hypotheses that immune infiltration is an important determinant of the response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and outcomes in TNBC, and blocking the function of myeloid -derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) using repurposed metabolic inhibitors or new investigational agents improves the response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and immunotherapy, thus ameliorating health disparities in TNBC patients. WE have funded additional Pilot Studies through the P20 grant to study colorectal cancer in the population of Louisiana.
Project ECHO is defined as a revolution in medical education and care delivery. Its goal is to provide specialized medical care for complex medical issues by establishing partnerships between specialized clinicians at the academic centers and practitioners in the community. The SSSCC proposes to use this program to expand the impact of the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), the federally supported cancer clinical trials program with 21 sites in Louisiana, to offer advanced cancer care for patients. Using Project ECHO technology, the role and impact of oncology subspecialists and CRAs will be expanded by establishing a partnership with general practitioners (oncologists or surgical subspecialists) in the community (urban and rural) who diagnose, treat and follow a variety of cancer patients. Dr. Amelia Jernigan, a GYN oncologist, Dr. Scott Delacroix, a urologic oncologist, and Dr. Aaron Mammoser, a neuro-oncologist, are each one of a handful of subspecialty oncologists for these diseases in the state of Louisiana. They are faculty at LSU Health-New Orleans, members of the GS-NCORP and have significant experience in the management of cancer clinical trials for these types of patients. Dr. Delacroix is also a member of the Urologic Malignancy steering committee at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Jernigan is a member of the NRG corpus committee, NCORP, SWOG and SOG, and has interest in early prevention with particular interest in exploring means of enhancing HPV vaccine uptake. Given the few oncology subspecialists in these areas in Louisiana, it is proposed to develop novel approaches to expand the impact of these LSU faculty members in the state by using Project ECHO to establish a partnership with community OBGYN, urologic surgeons or other oncologists who diagnose, treat and follow most patients with these types of malignancies.
To get more information about clinical and research information or opportunities contact Dr. Augusto Ochoa Director LSU Cancer Center, email@example.com, 504-210-2121 or visit our website at the LSUHSC School of Medicine under centers.