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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

New Chicago Breast Cancer Research Consortium Will Increase Access to Clinical Trials

The Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation is convening cancer research leaders in a never-been-done-before collaboration that will make clinical trials more accessible to Chicago-area breast cancer patients. The initiative — called the Chicago Breast Cancer Research Consortium — comprised of Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Medicine, University of Chicago Medicine, and RUSH University for Health — is the first-of-its-kind in Chicago and is funded by a $1.8 million donation from the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation. 

Consortium trials will be offered at all three hospital systems. Having a network of trial sites provides tremendous benefits:

  • It ensures a diverse patient pool.
  • Patients can receive treatment in their own communities, with the care team they select.

“Reaching a diverse pool of patients across Chicago leads to more robust, equitable research, which leads to a better overall understanding of breast cancer and how to eradicate it,” said Halee Sage, board chair of the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation, which will fund the Consortium for five years. “And by having many clinical sites, patients can participate without having to forgo care from their primary oncologist. ”Part of the foundation’s donation is earmarked for patient expenses, like travel and childcare.

“We’re removing barriers for patients who cannot afford to participate in trials. They will now get to benefit from these innovative treatments,” said Sage. “We’re incredibly excited to launch the Chicago Breast Cancer Research Consortium with these renowned institutions and fight for a future without breast cancer.”

“The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) commends Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation and its partners, University of Chicago Medicine, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, and RUSH University for Health on its joint initiative to improve access to clinical trials, particularly for minority populations and those who face barriers to participation. This focus reflects CDPH's own investments in comprehensive breast health programs that, through partners, provide screening mammograms, navigation support, and innovative community outreach to Black and Latina women,” said Olusimbo Ige, MD, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

GradisharThe research will be led by a steering committee comprised of William Gradishar, MD, chief of hematology and oncology, Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Medicine; Rita Nanda, MD, breast cancer specialist, UChicago Medicine; and Ruta Rao, MD, (oncologist and medical director, RUSH University Cancer Center).

“Unfortunately, disparities in breast cancer outcomes among different racial groups in Chicago have been observed,” said Nanda, director of breast oncology at UChicago Medicine. “This consortium came from a desire to improve breast cancer mortality and reduce disparities by offering a network of sites where patients can have access to clinical trials without having to travel.”

The Consortium’s aim is to launch their first clinical trial in 2024 and to have multiple trials running by 2025. The accumulated research data, along with biological samples and medical images from patients who participate at all three sites, will be housed at the University of Chicago where staff will ensure centralized communication among sites, making it easier and quicker to conduct studies. 

“Our goal is to ensure that all of our patients are included in clinical trials and have the opportunity to benefit from the advances we are making in breast cancer treatments today,” said Rao.

“By harnessing the expertise and research powers of our three renowned institutions, this consortium will not only provide the opportunity for more patients to access clinical trials but will also move research discoveries to innovative treatments faster, helping more patients beat breast cancer,” said Gradishar, who is also deputy director of Lurie Cancer Center’s Clinical Network.  

Read more at Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation