Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., Bill McRaven and William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP (right),

Quantum leap in cancer care

Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., Bill McRaven and William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP (right),

Ronald A. DePinho, M.D. (left), president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven (center) and UT Health San Antonio President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP (right), announced an affiliation agreement between UT Health San Antonio and MD Anderson Cancer Center Nov. 1.

UT Health San Antonio and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced an affiliation agreement Nov. 1 that will create a comprehensive and clinically integrated cancer care program in San Antonio.

Beginning later this year, the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center will provide adult cancer patients in South Texas greater access to the most advanced oncology care available.

Through this affiliation, the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) will collaborate with MD Anderson as part of an international network of hospitals and health care systems dedicated to ending cancer globally. The affiliation will build on MD Anderson’s knowledge and capabilities and UT Health San Antonio’s expertise and the Institute for Drug Development, one of the largest early phase drug development programs in the world. It will benefit patients in the 38 South Texas counties already served by UT Health San Antonio.

The agreement aligns with the vision of UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven to create a “quantum leap” by building collaborative teams of UT System institutions based on the respective strengths and expertise of the institutions.

“MD Anderson is the top-ranked cancer center in America, with unparalleled experience, resources and expertise,” McRaven said. “This is a fine example of how we can leverage the expertise of our individual institutions with the size and excellence of the UT System to better serve people in our region, the state and beyond.”

The affiliation will provide increased access to MD Anderson’s treatment protocols, standards of care, extensive clinical trials and translational research in San Antonio. UT Health San Antonio will deliver research-driven, patient-centered care that mirrors MD Anderson’s multidisciplinary model, which will provide a new dimension of innovative care and treatment options. Through joint tumor boards, MD Anderson physicians will provide additional multidisciplinary opinions for diagnosis and treatment.

The agreement also will bring new funding from the UT System and private sources to improve the infrastructure at the CTRC, including a newly renovated Patient and Family Welcome Center, an expanded and more efficient pharmacy, an infusion center designed around the patient experience, a diagnostic suite and a wayfinding system to help patients more easily navigate around the facility.

“These improvements will take time, which is why we will not offer the collaborative services until later this year,” said UT Health San Antonio President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP. “We have looked at the projected need for cancer care in our region, and over the next 10 years we are expecting a significant growth in population. Unfortunately, with that growth will come many more cancer cases. This affiliation will help us improve our facility and patient care to be ready to serve the needs of our region with the best care possible.”

Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson, said the affiliation will dramatically reduce the suffering caused by cancer.

“We are proud to partner with UT Health San Antonio,” he said. “Through this affiliation, we are working to deliver groundbreaking clinical advances focused on prevention, early detection, treatment and research.”

A national search is underway to hire a director to lead the new program.

“Beyond all of these obvious advantages is that we will be able to offer our region the very best care close to home,” Dr. Henrich said. “I know firsthand what it is like to leave my home for treatment, away from family and friends at a crucial time. This is why we want this affiliation for South Texas.”

The CTRC and MD Anderson are among only four National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in Texas.

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