publication date: Nov. 4, 2016

San Antonio’s CTRC Joins MD Anderson Network

By Paul Goldberg

The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and MD Anderson Cancer Center announced an affiliation to create a cancer care program in San Antonio.

Under the agreement announced earlier this week, MD Anderson will join forces with the Cancer Therapy & Research Center of the UT Health Science Center.

The collaboration will be equivalent to MD Anderson’s partnerships in Arizona (Banner), New Jersey (Cooper and Summit Medical Group), California (Scripps) and Florida (Baptist in Jacksonville), MD Anderson officials said.

MD Anderson offers multiple levels of affiliation, and at this highest level, the programs are co-branded and clinically integrated with MD Anderson. Though specifics of these affiliation agreements haven’t been made public, it is known that money flows from the affiliate to the Houston-based cancer center.

The San Antonio partnership is expected to start functioning in mid-2017.

The deal includes upgrades to CTRC. “Funding will come will come from philanthropy, operating revenue and support from UT System using Permanent University Funds bonds,” said Rosanne Fohn, a spokeswoman for the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. “The anticipated investment in the cancer center will be $60 million to $70 million through 2019.”

According to the UT System officials, the partnership was envisioned by Chancellor Bill McRaven. “MD Anderson is the top-ranked cancer center in America, with unparalleled experience, resources and expertise,” McRaven said in a statement. “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 agreement also will make it possible to renovate the patient and family welcome center, and an expanded and more efficient pharmacy, an infusion center, a diagnostic suite and a wayfinding system.

“These improvements will take time, which is why we will not offer the collaborative services until the middle of next year,” UT Health Science Center President William Henrich, said in a statement.

The two organizations will jointly recruit cancer physicians and allied health staff members. A national search is underway to hire a medical director to lead the new program, officials said.

The CTRC website continues to identify Ian Thompson, a prostate cancer expert, as the center’s director.

“The national search for a director has just been launched and is being managed by Meyer Consulting out of Scottsdale, AZ,” Fohn said to The Cancer Letter. Asked whether Thompson is among candidates for this job, Fohn said, “As is common in senior leadership positions, the search is anticipated to take 3-6 months. Meyer Consulting does not publicly disclose applicants.”

CTRC is one of four NCI-designated cancer centers in Texas. Fohn said that the center’s current designation “will not be impacted and there are plans to advance it to comprehensive status.”

CTRC is unusual—and especially challenged—because it has no inpatient beds. Though the center has a history of losing money, it has been breaking even over the past two years, Fohn said. “Services provided by the CTRC are outpatient only,” she said. “It is not an inpatient facility, nor are there plans to provide inpatient beds.”

Assets in this affiliation include the CTRC Institute for Drug Development operates a large early phase drug development program.

Another asset in the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which will be held Dec. 6-10. The meeting is co-sponsored by the CTRC, the American Association for Cancer Research and Baylor College of Medicine.

In 2015, the meeting drew 7,576 attendees, half of them from outside the U.S.

Copyright (c) 2017 The Cancer Letter Inc.