Georgetown Lombardi Secures Prestigious NCI Endorsement

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A technician administers a mammogram to a woman
In its review from the NCI, Georgetown Lombardi earned high praise for its work in the community to reduce disparities in cancer care. At the Capital Breast Care Center, a community outreach program of Georgetown Lombardi, women receive mammograms and breast health services regardless of their ability to pay.

(September 10, 2014) — Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center has received the federal government’s most powerful endorsement for its work in cancer prevention, research and treatment.

Citing exceptional accomplishments in community-based work and cancer prevention and control efforts, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded a five-year, $11.25-million Cancer Center Support Grant, to Georgetown Lombardi, part of Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital . Besides the grant funding, the cancer center also has received a renewal of its status as a comprehensive cancer center.

Brand of Excellence

The hard-fought “comprehensive” designation—the highest of its kind from the federal government—indicates that Georgetown continues to meet an intensely rigorous bar for its laboratory science, clinical research and population-based programs, along with translational research that spans the bench to the bedside.

“This is about so much more than the grant money it provides to support our work,” says Louis M. Weiner, MD , director of Georgetown Lombardi and professor of oncology at GUMC. “It is a powerful endorsement—an external validation—that the work we have done and continue to do is having high impact—both locally and globally.”

Having the NCI’s “seal of approval” connotes quality, Weiner says, as well as a brand of excellence for the entire cancer enterprise and the broader Georgetown community.

Notably, work in population science—which includes working with community members to reduce disparities in cancer care in a metropolitan area where 41% of cancer patients are underrepresented minorities—earned Georgetown Lombardi particularly high praise.

Reducing Cancer in Our Backyard

Georgetown Lombardi’s cancer prevention and control program conducts population-based and translational research across the spectrum of cancer control, ranging from early detection to lifestyle intervention to survivorship issues.

Georgetown Lombardi operates two offsite facilities—the Capital Breast Care Center and the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research , both in Southeast DC—that anchor its community-based screening and research efforts among underserved populations.

This work is a pillar of Georgetown’s prestigious $6.1-million grant that established a Center of Excellence for Health Disparities in the Nation’s Capital , in collaboration with Howard University and other partners.

“It is very important that we reduce the impact of cancer in the region that we serve—this has always been our goal and we have set aggressive targets to that end,” Weiner says. “By reaching out and working with partners in our community, we are able to more fully realize Georgetown’s principles of cura personalis (care of the whole person) and men and women for others.”

A Regional Footprint

Georgetown Lombardi is one of only 41 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. Others include MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Johns Hopkins’ Kimmel Cancer Center in Maryland and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Massachusetts.

“Georgetown Lombardi is an incredible asset for patients in our region because of the top-tier cancer research and unparalleled care it provides,” says Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD , executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center. “The NCI designation of ‘comprehensive cancer center’ reaffirms the high quality and impactful work conducted by a cadre of dedicated cancer researchers here at Georgetown. In addition, the successful collaboration with MedStar Health has yielded a clinical and research enterprise of great significance to both organizations.”

With MedStar Health, Weiner has led an expansion of the cancer center in the region by creating the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Network . Georgetown Lombardi is the research engine of the network, which facilitates access to cutting-edge clinical trials for patients throughout MedStar Health’s network of hospitals.

“The renewal of the National Cancer Institute designation recognizes the invaluable asset [Georgetown Lombardi] is to the community we serve both locally and nationally,” said Joy Drass, MD , MedStar Health’s executive vice president for operations for the Washington region. “As Lombardi’s clinical partner in providing world-class cancer treatment and care to patients across the region, this re-designation, further demonstrates the strength of our joint activities in research, community education and outreach. By linking scientific discovery and expert and compassionate patient care, MedStar and Lombardi will continue to prevent, treat and help cure cancers.”

Lombardi conducts its research through four programs: cancer prevention and control, breast cancer, experimental therapeutics and molecular oncology, which are supported by nine research-enabling shared resources facilities.

Noting that the Cancer Center Support Grant is the “engine of innovation” for Georgetown Lombardi, Weiner adds that the funding and comprehensive designation “enable us to continue to provide tomorrow’s treatments today” for patients in the Washington region.

The Cancer Center Support Grant (#P30 CA051008) is funded by the National Cancer Institute.

By Lauren Wolkoff
GUMC Communications