2014 in Review: A Year of Extraordinary Progress

Pictured: Roswell Park celebrates the successes of 2014 and looks ahead to the promise of 2015.

Roswell Park looks ahead to the promise of 2015

Last year, Roswell Park served over 31,000 active patients — more than ever before. To meet the needs of that growing population, in 2014 the Institute launched new services to provide the most advanced patient care. Some highlights from the past year are recapped below.

OmniSeq Target™

A major breakthrough came in July with the introduction of OmniSeq Target™, a test developed at Roswell Park that analyzes the DNA of a patient’s cancer cells or tumor to search for specific mutations (abnormalities) in 23 different cancer-related genes. If the mutations are present, the treatment plan can be customized with existing drugs that “target” the mutations while sparing healthy cells. That means the drugs are more likely to be effective and will also result in fewer and milder side effects. “This is a next-generation cancer test that’s both comprehensive and focused, and there’s no other test like it on the market,” says Carl Morrison, MD, DVM, executive director of Roswell Park’s Center for Personalized Medicine.

Right now OmniSeq Target™ is used for patients with lung cancer, especially in the late stages, and advanced melanoma — diseases that have been extremely difficult to treat. Roswell Park expects to extend the test to patients with other types of cancer as well, beginning with colorectal cancer and leukemia. The test will be applied to additional disease sites as researchers identify new cancer-related genetic mutations and develop therapies to target them.

Watch the video of a public forum discussing the new OmniSeq Target test to learn more.

New Endoscopy Center

In November Roswell Park celebrated the opening of a new state-of-the-art Endoscopy Center, doubling the size of the previous center to support minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment for gastrointestinal (GI) and pulmonary (lung) conditions — both cancers and non-cancers. The new center supports Roswell Park’s high-risk screening programs for lung and colon cancers.

Endoscopy allows doctors to see inside their patients’ bodies without surgery, using a thin tube with a camera on one end. It can offer an attractive alternative to surgery, with less trauma, faster recovery, and reduced risk of complications, and is usually performed at Roswell Park on an outpatient basis.

Learn more about our Endoscopy Center.

Re-designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center

The past year also marked renewal of Roswell Park’s Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), confirming Roswell Park’s continued designation as a comprehensive cancer center. An in-depth review by the NCI earned Roswell Park an Outstanding rating along with the five-year, $19 million grant to support the Institute’s world-class cancer research programs. Designation as a comprehensive cancer center recognizes the strength of Roswell Park’s research programs as well as its professional and public education programs and outreach efforts.

Donald Trump, MD, then president and CEO of Roswell Park, led our work in securing the NCI core grant renewal, an achievement that capped his seven-year tenure as head of the Institute. Dr. Trump announced his retirement in late 2014, and subsequently I was appointed to lead the Institute as president and CEO. I believe the transition has been smooth partly because of our shared emphasis on building the Institute’s programs in genomics, personalized medicine, and immunotherapy, which promise to produce monumental advances in cancer prevention and treatment. I look forward to continuing my longtime research collaboration with Dr. Trump, who has been named President and CEO Emeritus at Roswell Park.  

The Promise of 2015

With 2015 well underway, the new year is already full of promise: Roswell Park researchers have identified promising new approaches for tackling aggressive, treatment-resistant prostate cancer, and nearly $12 million in funding from the New York State Stem Cell Science Program will fund Roswell Park research aimed at developing new treatments for advanced ovarian cancer. That’s just the beginning! Stay tuned.

Candace Johnson, PhD, was appointed as CEO and President of Roswell Park on February 3, 2015.