Dr. Charles Staley Named Local Co-PI of New NCI Clinical Trials Network

March 2014

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has been selected as a Lead Academic Participating Site for the National Cancer Institute's new National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). Dr. Charles Staley, chief of the division of surgical oncology of the Emory Department of Surgery and associate director for clinical operations at Winship, will serve as Co-PI of the Winship outpost of the network with Emory medical oncology chief Dr. Suresh Ramalingam and Emory radiation oncologist Dr. Jonathan Beitler.

Effective Mar. 1, 2014, the NCTN began serving as NCI's primary infrastructure to conduct phase II and III cancer clinical trials, and is expected to enroll over 17,000 patients per year with a variety of cancer types and from diverse backgrounds. After a peer-review application process for membership in the NCTN, Winship was one of only five centers in the Southeast to be chosen, and is included with a total of 30 American cancer centers that received the designation. The distinction includes a five-year award.

The NCTN trials will be managed by five network groups, one of which will be co-led by Dr. Walter Curran, Jr., executive director of Winship, and Dr. Deborah Bruner, associate director for outcomes research at Winship. "In selecting Winship for this designation, the NCI recognizes our outstanding record in offering cancer patients participation in high quality clinical trials as well as our national leadership in research," says Dr. Curran.

The three Co-PIs will use the grant to support efforts to optimize the design and conduct of Winship's trials as well as to support patient enrollment in NCTN trials. "This grant acknowledges our leadership in national clinical trials and allows us to continue to offer the most up to date and novel cancer treatments to the patients of Georgia and the Southeast," says Dr. Staley.

Dr. Staley is an established, translational cancer researcher who conducts novel clinical trials in gastrointestinal cancers. He has investigated gene therapy for metastatic colon cancer, radiofrequency ablation with intra-arterial chemotherapy for patients with colorectal liver metastases, and neoadjuvant chemoradiation with the goal of maximizing sphincter preservation in the treatment of rectal cancer. In the area of translational science, Dr. Staley and such colleagues as Dr. Lily Yang are exploring methods of using nanotechnology to diagnose and treat pancreatic and breast cancer.

In 2013, 760 patients were enrolled in 250 Winship clinical trials that were testing new therapies. In the last seven years, 75-percent of new cancer treatments approved by the FDA have been tested in clinical trials available at Winship.