Fox Chase Researcher Receives Grant to Explore Biomarker-Directed Therapy in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

Dr Wookey
Vanessa B. Wookey, MD, has received a grant from the NCCN Oncology Research Program to explore optimizing biomarker-directed therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer.

PHILADELPHIA (August 18, 2023) — Vanessa B. Wookey, MD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, has received a grant from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Oncology Research Program (ORP) to explore optimizing biomarker-directed therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer.

“I’m honored to receive this award from such a prestigious organization in the field of cancer research,” Wookey said. “This is a natural extension of my research focus, which is improving the current landscape of cancer care by developing new knowledge and treatment strategies for patients with gastrointestinal cancers.”

Wookey’s research program is “Improving Biomarker Testing in Patients With Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Through Patient Education.” Fight Colorectal Cancer, an advocacy organization, collaborated with NCCN and Pfizer Inc. in the grant process. Pfizer will provide funding and oversee the projects.

Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is a complex, heterogeneous disease characterized by multiple gene alterations that can significantly impact a patient’s prognosis and treatment option profile.

Biomarker testing has transformed the landscape of mCRC care and is critical to ensuring a patient receives appropriate, evidence-based care. The goals of the grant program are to optimize biomarker-directed therapy based on established clinical practice guidelines in mCRC and improve patient knowledge of biomarker testing.

“Biomarker testing to determine optimal therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer can be complex, cumbersome, and prolonged, which leads to delays in appropriate patient care,” said Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, FACP, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at NCCN.

“These barriers exist throughout the biomarker testing continuum and include provider ordering, patient education, insurance coverage, tissue acquisition, data interpretation, and treatment implications. These investigators will hopefully provide research that leads to improving a key component of delivering guideline-concordant care,” she added.

“At Pfizer, we’re committed to raising awareness of both the importance of biomarker testing in mCRC as well as optimizing clinical implementation. Improving access to biomarker testing as well as increasing our knowledge about testing methods are key to help improve outcomes for patients living with this type of devastating cancer,” said Faisal Mehmud, MD, Precision Medicine & Early Pipeline Lead at Pfizer.

“Envisioning a future where metastatic colorectal cancer patients receive optimal and personalized treatment without unnecessary hurdles is at the heart of Fight CRC’s mission,” said Anjee Davis, MPPA, President of Fight Colorectal Cancer. “In partnership with Pfizer and NCCN, we are thrilled to reveal these transformative grants designed to dismantle barriers throughout the biomarker testing journey. Through a proactive approach in addressing patients’ challenges and expanding access to biomarker testing, we forge a path towards conquering this complex disease, all while empowering patients to become their own advocates in their fight for better outcomes.”

The selected projects are set to be completed within two years. Nearly $750,000 in funding will be provided across all grants. The NCCN ORP fosters innovation and knowledge discovery that improve the lives of people with cancer and supports preclinical, translational, clinical research, and quality improvement projects in oncology at NCCN member institutions.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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