Leaders focus on Cancer Center’s next phase

Leszek Kotula, MD, PhD, in his lab. He is one of Upstate's researchers who seeks to benefit cancer patients with advancements in diagnostic and treatment options (PHOTO BY WILLIAM MUELLER)

Leszek Kotula, MD, PhD, in his lab. He is one of Upstate’s researchers who seeks to benefit cancer patients with advancements in diagnostic and treatment options (PHOTO BY WILLIAM MUELLER)

Upstate Cancer Center officials are improving outcomes for cancer patients by integrating the medical care, research, education and outreach programs that are already in place.

“We have outstanding research faculty, outstanding clinicians and some of the best cancer-fighting technology around, and spirited community outreach efforts. These all work to win the war against cancer for our patients,” says Jeffrey Bogart, MD, interim director of the cancer center. “When we align all that Upstate does in the field of cancer care, we intensify our institutional might in battling this disease.”

The institution has a long history of providing collaborative multidisciplinary care with integrated cancer clinics dating back to the 1990s. Bogart says the depth and breadth of subspecialty expertise at Upstate is unmatched in the region and unique in the number of fellowship-trained doctors specializing in cancer. The new structure of the cancer center facilitates a team-based approach organized around specific tumor sites, including breast cancer, lung cancer, genitourinary malignancies, head and neck cancer, neurologic cancers and cancers of the liver, pancreas and gallbladder, among others. Upstate also houses the only children’s cancer treatment facility in the region.

In his role as interim director, Bogart, who also serves as chair of radiation oncology, oversees all cancer care and cancer-related research at Upstate.

He says a stronger alignment between the cancer center and the academic institution will “strengthen our cancer care, accelerate scientific discovery, bolster our academic programs and extend our community outreach and education efforts far beyond our campus.” Bogart adds that this new structure puts the cancer center in the best position to grow and respond to the changing market and health care reform dynamics. It will also set in motion Upstate’s long-term strategy of earning a National Cancer Institute designation.

NCI-designated centers are recognized for their scientific leadership, resources and the depth and breadth of their research in basic, clinical and population science.

“This is an important designation that reflects on an institution’s integrated approach to cancer care,” Bogart says.

Assisting Bogart is the newly created Cancer Center Leadership Committee, which includes broad representation from campus, including department chairs, nursing, research and hospital leadership. Gennady Bratslavsky, MD, professor and chair of the urology department, is vice chair. Other key appointments include Leszek Kotula, MD, PhD, associate professor of urology and biochemistry and molecular biology, for basic and translational research; Ajeet Gajra, MD, associate professor of medicine, for clinical affairs; Stephen Graziano, MD, professor of medicine, for clinical research; and Leslie Kohman, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Surgery, for community outreach.

This article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Cancer Care magazine.

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