National Cancer Institute Renews Prestigious Designation of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

MedStar Washington Hospital Center Patients Will Benefit from Increased Access to the Nation’s Leading Experts and Research

May 7, 2019

Washington, D.C. – For the first time, MedStar Washington Hospital Center has been named a primary hospital affiliate of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. At the same time, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has once again designated Georgetown Lombardi, with its coveted distinction, “comprehensive cancer center.”

The NCI first awarded this designation to Georgetown Lombardi in 1974. Its longstanding partner, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, has served as the cancer center’s primary hospital affiliate, but it now includes MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

“As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in the District of Columbia, we’re able to offer a comprehensive suite of services to our patients, providing them with research-inspired cancer care that they simply can't get anywhere else,” said Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of Georgetown Lombardi and the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute, which includes MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and MedStar Washington Hospital Center. The MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute combines medical expertise, the latest therapies, and research across the region. “What makes us special is the concept of cura personalis, or the care of the whole person. We don't treat diseases – we use evidence-based medicine to treat people in the context of their own lives, families, and communities. Having cancer is very frightening. Being a cancer patient can be a lonely journey.  At our hospital, you're going to be treated like a person, not like a disease.”

Christopher M. Gallagher, MD, medical director of Cancer Services at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, added, “Combining our collective expertise under the research structure of Georgetown Lombardi brings the most innovative and cutting-edge therapies to each of our hospitals, greatly benefiting our patient population.”

In order to renew its NCI designation, the cancer program in 2018 went through a rigorous, peer-reviewed grant renewal process conducted by cancer center experts from across the country. The renewal occurs every three to five years.

M. Joy Drass, MD, executive vice president and chief operating officer of MedStar Health, said, “As the clinical partner for Georgetown Lombardi, our patients receive personalized care from physicians who are also, through innovative clinical trial research, offering breakthrough advancements in diagnostics, new technologies, and novel therapeutics. Our long-standing partnership provides patients with unparalleled access to a multidisciplinary team of experts, clinicians, and researchers who are leading the way in how cancer is detected and treated.”

The NCI approved Georgetown Lombardi as a “consortium center” reflecting an integrated cancer research program with John Theurer Cancer Center, part of Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey. 

The NCI designation as a comprehensive cancer center indicates that Georgetown Lombardi excels in laboratory science, clinical research and population-based programs, along with robust translational research that bridges these areas. It also demonstrates expansive public education and outreach capabilities, which focus on the community.

The populations in Washington, D.C., and in Bergen County, New Jersey, where the John Theurer Cancer Center is located, have some of the highest cancer incidence and death rates in the country. Georgetown Lombardi researchers are working on new ways to address the underlying causes so that strategies to address these health disparities can be implemented and refined.

Edward B. Healton, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences and Executive Dean of the medical school at Georgetown University Medical Center underscores the critical role of Georgetown Lombardi in the communities it serves.

“An important aspect of the research, outreach and education activities carried out at Georgetown Lombardi focuses on eliminating disparities in minority and medically underserved populations,” Healton said. “This is especially important in the communities served by both Georgetown and Hackensack, as our special collaboration has the potential to be deeply impactful.”

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