The National Cancer Institute awarded the Wisconsin National Community Oncology Research Program (WiNCORP), a Wisconsin cancer clinical trial network, with $15.6 million to make the latest treatment options available to people with cancer.

WiNCORP is a partnership between Gundersen Health System, Marshfield Clinic Health System and ThedaCare that provides innovative cancer clinical trials to patients in Wisconsin. This partnership builds on the collaborative relationship these three health systems have to improve access to cancer clinical trials for more patients.

This will be the second time WiNCORP has received this award from the National Cancer Institute. During the first, five-year period, about 150 active cancer clinical trials were available at any given time.

"We have participated in hundreds of clinical trials that have made a huge difference to our patients since we received the initial award. We are excited that we get to continue to provide our patients with this state-of-the-art cancer care," said Dr. Adedayo Onitilo, medical director for Cancer Care and Research at Marshfield Clinic Health System and principal investigator for WiNCORP. "Clinical research is the most important tool in our armamentarium for advancing knowledge and medical practice in the treatment of cancer."

The Health System worked previously with the National Cancer Institute as part of its Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), which preceded NCORP. The Research Institute joined CCOP when the program launched in 1983. Gundersen and ThedaCare joined WiNCORP in 2014 and 2019, respectively.

NCORP is a national NCI-supported network of investigators, cancer care providers, academic institutions and other organizations that provide care to diverse populations in community-based health care practices across the U.S.

The previous award

The previous award from NCORP was from 2014-2019 and totaled $12.5 million to help foster great change within the Cancer Care service line.

During that time, the Cancer Care and Research Center was formed – focusing on integrating cancer research and clinical care. This change integrated the oncology research coordinators and nurses into each cancer center – facilitating fully integrated care teams.

"We continue to focus on making clinical trials an important part of the care we provide every day," said Daniel Wall, Cancer Care and Research Center administrator. "We have made strong gains in enrollment numbers and a lot of that has to do with our new structure."

Accruals rose sharply in the last year of the grant, more than quadrupling numbers in previous years. Dr. Onitilo anticipates WiNCORP will continue to see growth as we continue to expand our study portfolio and work closely with providers across our Health System. These accruals caused WiNCORP to receive Platinum status as a NCORP and was recognized for having the highest number of treatment enrollments for a single clinician.

"Participating in this program allows us to bring cutting-edge treatments to our patients while making critical advancements in cancer research," said Dr. Susan Turney, Health System CEO. "Receiving this funding is a tribute to the incredible work done by so many members of our System, and in particular staff from our Research Institute and Oncology service line."