Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Grows Clinical Research Program, Adds Genetic Services

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center announced that the organization’s expanded clinical research program and its full offering of genetic services are now available to residents across the region. Through Mary Bird Perkins’ enhanced clinical research, a greater number of trials are now available to more people. At the same time, the Cancer Center has opened a genetic services clinic—a much-needed asset that will help bolster cancer prevention and precision medicine strategies.  

“Expanded research opportunities and a robust genetics programs, together, and individually, offer patients many new opportunities to triumph over cancer,” said Daniel LaVie, MD, medical oncologist, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

Clinical trials move cancer research forward by looking beyond current standard of care treatments and finding new ways to target cancer and deliver improved patient outcomes. Genetics is also a powerful tool, helping oncologists develop a care plan tailored to the specific “programming” of an individual’s cancer cells (precision medicine) or by identifying a person’s predisposition to a disease with counseling to help prevent it.

“While Mary Bird Perkins has offered an array of clinical trials for years, a new research management system will help us effectively screen patients for trials by matching them with an open study improving access to new and emerging research and protocols,” said LaVie.

Additionally, as a benefit of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s recent partnership with OneOncology, patients across the area will have access to its clinical trials program called OneR. This program will allow Mary Bird Perkins oncologists and patients direct access to participate in research studies launched by other members of the vast network.

Further, Mary Bird Perkins will expand trials to locations throughout southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, noted Mandy Shipp, director of clinical research, Mary Bird Perkins. “Clinical trials are offered to patients at no cost, thanks to our generous donor community and it’s always coupled with a standard treatment. Patients who qualify to participate in a trial can rest assured it is a tested protocol that may enhance outcomes.”

The understanding of the underlying genetics of cancer, which are unique to each patient and their diagnosis, is becoming an increasingly important tool used by oncologists to develop a plan of care that is tailored to the specific make-up of an individual's cancer cells. To that end, Mary Bird Perkins opened a genetics clinic, located at its main campus, 4950 Essen Lane. It is available to all patients. The clinic consists of two main components: genetic testing and counseling. The clinic team can determine if someone has an inherited mutation in a cancer-related gene that could be passed on to offspring, which promotes education and early detection efforts. The genetics clinic will also help in the Cancer Center’s establishment of a precision medicine program, a significant boost to fighting the disease.  

“To help support and maximize our investments in our clinical trials and precision medicine programs, we are excited to have distinguished physician scientist, Victor Lin, MD, PhD, join our team of researchers, nurse practitioners and other specialists,” said Jonas Fontenot, PhD, chief operating officer and Dr. Charles M. Smith Chief of Physics, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “Information is power, and with advancements underway in both clinical research and precision medicine, we will propel the future of early detection, prevention and treatment efforts at Mary Bird Perkins. In the end, it’ll help us save more lives.”

Lin is an oncologist who has led the precision medicine program and also served as principal investigator for numerous clinical trials at the NCI-designated University of Alabama Birmingham. He will start at Mary Bird Perkins in August.