The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has designated Atlantic Health System as a National Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) site of the Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium (AHCC).  As the first and only New Jersey-based NCORP, AHCC will help develop and implement NCI cancer prevention, screening, care delivery, and treatment studies with leading healthcare systems across the state.  The major health systems and medical centers throughout New Jersey that make up the AHCC NCORP include:

Atlantic Health System (Congressional District NJ-011)

Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Newton Medical Center and Hackettstown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital

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CentraState Healthcare System (NJ-004)

Holy Name Medical Center (NJ-005)

Hunterdon Healthcare (NJ-007)

St. Joseph’s Health (NJ-009)

St Joseph’s University Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital

Saint Peter’s Healthcare System (NJ-006)

Saint Peter’s University Hospital, Saint Peter’s Children’s Hospital

Atlantic Health System will serve as the lead affiliate for NCORP Community Site activities, providing the scientific leadership and central support personnel necessary to accomplish the AHCC NCORP objectives. Atlantic Health System leadership includes experienced cancer investigators in both adult and pediatric cancers with unique expertise that span the cancer continuum.

“As the first National Cancer Institute NCORP site based in New Jersey, we will expand the NCORP network coverage by 6.5 million people,” said Missak Haigentz, MDmedical director of Hematology and Oncology for Atlantic Health System and principal investigator for AHCC NCORP.“We are proud to partner with these leading healthcare organizations, each of which has its own unique strengths and patient populations. This will be an exceptional and unprecedented cancer care consortium for New Jersey, which has a diverse population and higher rates of adult and childhood cancer than the nation as a whole.”

The incidence of cancer in New Jersey is 477.5 cases per 100,000 versus 441.2 cases per 100,000 nationally. Warren (511.5/100,000) and Monmouth (497.8/100,000) counties have even higher cancer rates, while the pediatric cancer rate for New Jersey is above the national average at 17.1 versus 16.3 cases per 100,000.

The grant will enable all sites in the AHCC NCORP to participate in additional cutting-edge research from the NCI and National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN), and will significantly enhance access to these trials for cancer patients throughout New Jersey.The clinical trials will focus on cancer control, prevention, screening, care delivery, treatment and medical imaging, and many will include a quality-of-life component.These studies will also incorporate the needs of diverse populations and will be integrated with cancer disparities research.

“Ultimately, the AHCC NCORP presents a substantial opportunity to advance scientific understanding in cancer prevention, screening, control, treatment and care delivery research within a large and diverse population,” said Dr. Haigentz.“We will also be part of a nationwide integrated network of community-based cancer programs that will collaborate, analyze and share data through the NCORP Research Bases.”

Specific goals of the consortium will be to increase adult and pediatric participation in the above-referenced types of NCI and National Clinical Trials Network clinical trials, including members of groups that are currently underrepresented in clinical trials, such as ethnic and racial minorities.The consortium will also collect tissue samples in order to support advances in genomics and molecularly targeted therapies.

Additional goals include enhancing community involvement and the involvement of community-based physicians in cancer control, prevention and care delivery research through a variety of targeted community outreach and engagement efforts, and to support and mentor community oncologists and other medical specialists.

The consortium will also help develop and implement clinically significant studies that incorporate the unique research needs of New Jersey’s diverse population.A special emphasis will be placed on involving non-English speaking individuals.

“Clinical advancements in prevention and treatment approaches must benefit all cancer patients. The best way to make that a reality is to ensure clinical research is conducted in diverse populations—both ethnic and geographic diversity,” said NCI Acting Director Douglas R. Lowy, MD. “Communities of color and rural communities face disadvantages in access to cutting-edge cancer care. We believe that clinical trials provide access to high quality cancer care. NCORP enables us to make this available to more communities.”

NCI grants went to 32 Community Sites and 14 Minority/Underserved (M/U) Community Sites, who have assembled more than 1,000 affiliates across the country to carry out cancer research. The NCORP network now covers 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam, the largest geographic coverage in the program’s history.

Clinical trial enrollment in the AHCC NCORP began August 1, 2019.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area.  Powered by a workforce of more than 16,800 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey, including 11 counties and 4.9 million people.  The system offers more than 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ.

In addition to the employed workforce, our Clinically Integrated Network, Atlantic Alliance, represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers comprising one of the state’s largest multi-specialty practices, Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners, which work collaboratively to enhance patient care.

Atlantic Health System delivers the full continuum of health care needs, including services at 12 urgent care centers, Atlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice.Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability.The system is also a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system expanding access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University, serves as home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers, and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.