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Winship renewed as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
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Jenny Owen

Falcons NFL MVP Matt Ryan discusses NCI designation with Winship executive director Suresh Ramalingam, MD.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has received renewal of the prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute, ensuring its continuing place in the top tier of cancer centers in the United States — and as Georgia’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

NCI comprehensive designation is the highest federal rating a cancer center can achieve. It is the gold standard for cancer programs and is awarded to the nation’s leading cancer centers in recognition of their innovative research that sets new standards for care. Research shows that patients who were treated at an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center experienced superior survival rates compared to patients treated elsewhere.

Winship first earned NCI Cancer Center designation in 2009. The grant was renewed in 2012, and Winship achieved comprehensive status in 2017. The renewal of Winship’s NCI designation reaffirms that Winship is reducing the cancer burden on the state of Georgia through research conducted in its scientific laboratories, clinical trials, population-based research, education and training programs, and community outreach and engagement.

“We are excited to renew our NCI designation following a rigorous peer review process,” says Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD, FACP, FASCO, Winship’s executive director and the Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research at Emory University School of Medicine. “This designation signifies that Winship has strong research programs, robust shared resources and first-rate scientists that are impactful in making discoveries that have led and informed the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer for patients in our communities and all over the world.”

Winship at Emory Midtown facility in Atlanta, Georgia.

Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Midtown opened on May 9, 2023.

An estimated 61,170 Georgians will be diagnosed with cancer this year. One in four of them will receive some component of their treatment at one of Winship’s clinical locations in metropolitan Atlanta — including Winship’s first-of-its-kind 17-story cancer care center in Midtown Atlanta, which opened on May 9. For patients, Winship’s innovative research translates into better ways of detecting, diagnosing and treating cancer. Patients also have full access to teams of experts using approaches to cancer not available outside of a top cancer research center. Winship has more than 300 clinical trials enrolling patients in pursuit of better approaches to nearly every type of cancer.

Emory President Gregory L. Fenves says, “At Emory, the fight against cancer is personal. We have all been touched by this destructive disease in some way and the renewal of Winship’s prestigious designation shows how committed our researchers, scientists, physicians and staff are to bringing hope and healing to patients and their families.”

For all Georgians, the Comprehensive Cancer Center designation recognizes that Winship researchers are studying the cancer issues unique to Georgia and that Winship is engaging the community in this research. Winship engages the community in all types and phases of cancer research to bring important societal issues and the lived experience of Georgians to the forefront, informing scientists in ways that lead to studies that are more responsive to the needs of Georgia communities. Engaging community members as partners in research also helps foster a collaborative and ethical foundation for scientific discovery, promotes greater diversity among participants on cancer clinical trials, and facilitates risk reduction and health equity.

“As Georgia’s only NCI-designated center, Winship is the state’s leading cancer resource, with a tripartite mission of research, education and care and a commitment to preventing, detecting and treating cancer statewide,” says Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH, executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University. “Patients across the state and around the world can tap into Winship’s clinical trials for more treatment options and first-in-human studies. And Winship is reaching into the community to ensure historically underserved groups have that same opportunity.”

NCI designation is awarded through a grant, which provides funding for research and training infrastructure, management and initiatives. The grant-evaluation process conducted by the NCI requires submission of a written Cancer Center Support Grant application and a site visit by a group of nearly two dozen scientists from peer institutions. The process must be repeated approximately every five years for renewal.

Established 86 years ago by a foundational gift from Robert W. Woodruff, Winship Cancer Institute continues to receive funding support from the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center Fund, Inc. Woodruff believed that no patient with cancer should ever have to travel outside the state of Georgia for their care. The NCI’s designation helps enable Winship to continue to make that vision a reality.

“We’re very pleased about what this recognition means for the future of cancer research at Winship and for patients in the state of Georgia and beyond,” says Ramalingam. “It means that Winship is well positioned to continue delivering on our mission of discovering cures for cancer and inspiring hope.”

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