Nov. 30, 2020

Winship and Atlanta VA: partners in veterans' cancer care

Photo of Winship and Atlanta VA: partners in veterans' cancer care

Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Since 1985, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University (Winship) and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Atlanta VA) have partnered to provide high-quality clinical care to veterans with cancer from the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Winship faculty with dual appointments in both the Emory School of Medicine and the Atlanta VA lend their expertise and considerable time each week to treat our nation's heroes.

The Atlanta VA embraces Winship's mission to provide well-rounded training to the next generation of oncologists, serving as a primary site for clinical rotations for Winship radiation oncology, surgical oncology, radiology, urology, and hematology and medical oncology physician trainees.

Over the last few years, there has been a strong emphasis on improving outcomes for veterans via increased screening and better access to clinical trials. A new initiative to promote early detection of lung cancer, one of the most diagnosed cancers for veterans in the United States, is a crucial part of this effort. Winship radiation oncologist Drew Moghanaki, MD, MPH, section chief in Radiation Oncology at the Atlanta VA and associate professor in Emory's Department of Radiation Oncology, has been instrumental to the increase of lung cancer screening for veterans through the Veterans Affairs Partnership to Increase Access to Lung Screening (VA-PALS) initiative. VA-PALS is a national program that aims to introduce broad-scale lung cancer early detection programs to VA centers around the country, currently being led through the Atlanta VA.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and VA Interagency Group to Accelerate Trials Enrollment (NAVIGATE) is another key initiative being led by Winship researchers at the Atlanta VA. Wayne B. Harris, MD, associate professor in the Emory Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, received a grant in 2018 to establish Winship at the Atlanta VA as a founding NAVIGATE site and was selected to represent principal investigators on the steering committee for the program in May. The goal of the program is to improve veterans' access to NCI-supported cancer clinical trials at VA medical centers.

"The Atlanta VA has a portfolio of over 20 active clinical trials by Winship investigators," says Harris. "The work we are doing with the NAVIGATE program is allowing us to provide more veterans access to promising new treatments."

Winship and the Atlanta VA are both critical members of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA), a statewide partnership between Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia. Winship and the Atlanta VA are crucial to the research incubator, increasing veterans' access to cutting-edge cancer treatment options based on laboratory discoveries and improving patient outcomes.

"Winship is grateful for the opportunity to serve our veterans through our long-standing partnership with the Atlanta VA," says Winship Executive Director Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD. "Through programs like VA-PALS and NAVIGATE, Winship is ensuring that veterans across the South have access to world-class medical care and the most advanced cancer treatments from Georgia's only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center."

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