The new Georgia Blood Cancer Trials Network will make innovative, investigational therapies and treatments more accessible to Georgia patients with blood cancer who reside outside of metropolitan Atlanta, including in rural areas where higher poverty rates and longer travel distances make clinical trial participation more difficult.
The Network is supported by a 2023 IMPACT grant from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to Jonathon Cohen, MD, MS, associate professor, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine, and co-director of the Lymphoma Program at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Approximately $2 million in LLS funding over five years, in combination with funding from an R50 grant from the National Cancer Institute, will support the Network in bringing blood cancer clinical trials to more diverse and widespread populations of patients across Georgia.
|Jonathon Cohen, MD, MS|
“The Georgia Blood Cancer Trials Network will allow Winship investigators to collaborate closely with teams throughout the state to bring innovative hematology-oncology trials to our patients, wherever they live,” said Cohen. “This initiative will improve access to the cutting-edge research being conducted by our investigators and will strengthen both clinical and research-related collaborations state-wide. I look forward to working with colleagues throughout Winship, the Georgia CORE and beyond to implement this program, and we are grateful for the support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and National Cancer Institute.”
The Georgia Blood Cancer Trials Network will conduct trials at multiple Winship locations including Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Winship at Emory Midtown and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital campuses, along with community-based systems in Atlanta and throughout the state. Cohen said they plan to launch their first trial in the first quarter of 2024, and they’ve been communicating and working with sites across the state to gauge interest and feasibility while establishing ongoing collaborations.
Co-investigators for this project include Pamela Allen, MD, MSc, Anthony Hunter, MD, and Nisha Joseph, MD. Another key collaborator on the project, Carlos Lopez, MD, MPH, is leading efforts to implement these studies at Grady Memorial Hospital.
“LLS is committed to making sure all blood cancer patients have access to and receive the treatment they need, regardless of location, race, language or income,” according to a recent press release issued by the LLS. “We do this through support and education for patients, advocacy efforts and through research. LLS is funding research projects and researchers to ensure everyone can benefit equally from blood cancer treatment advances.” To that end, LLS launched the IMPACT grants in 2021 to bring more clinical trials into underrepresented communities.
The NCI R50 award of approximately $780,000 over five years, is “an award designed to increase accrual to NCI-funded clinical trials at Winship and throughout our catchment area in Georgia,” said Cohen. In addition to Cohen’s leadership and the co-investigators’ work, the funding will also allow the Georgia Blood Cancer Trials Network to hire a clinical research coordinator to help facilitate the program.