In 2001, the Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC) was launched with a business plan that called for $400 million in tobacco settlement funds over 10 years.
Nancy Paris was one of the leaders of the new nonprofit. A social worker by training, Paris had worked in healthcare administration across the state, and had spearheaded initiatives involving low-income and rural Georgians, HIV, hospice and palliative care, and healthcare issues involving homelessness. Cancer was a new niche for her, but Paris says that Roy Barnes, then governor of Georgia, and his vision were compelling. "I had the great honor of working for this gifted leader who had a vision of integrating the health and economic impact of cancer for my state," says Paris. "He wanted this money to go for a great purpose and he had a strategic vision."
The GCC pulled together healthcare providers and researchers, recruited experienced scientists to the state, and coordinated a boon of cancer research and investment across Georgia--including at Winship. When stakeholders recognized the need for more in-state clinical trials, Paris spun off a new nonprofit from the Georgia Cancer Coalition: the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE). In 2005, Georgia CORE incorporated, with the mission of creating and maintaining a clinical trials network with collaboration between community physicians and doctors from academic research centers across the state.
To this day, Georgia CORE continues efforts to reduce healthcare disparities, increase cancer education and prevention, and improve access to clinical trials regardless of where a Georgian lives or is diagnosed. Says Paris, "We want clinical trials available at Winship to also be available across the state in community cancer centers." Winship Executive Director Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, serves on the board of Georgia CORE.