University of Minnesota launches statewide cancer clinical trials network, partnering with clinics across Minnesota

April 9, 2018

Led by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, the network is funded in partnership with the State of Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (04/09/2018) —  Patients across Minnesota will soon have better access to new cancer treatments through clinical trials thanks to a new state-funded partnership between the University of Minnesota and the state's major health systems. As part of Minnesota's Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) partnership with the State of Minnesota, the University has launched the Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN) with multiple locations across the state.

Led by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, the goal of the MNCCTN is to improve prevention, treatment and survivorship for all Minnesotans through greater access to cancer clinical trials. These trials will originate from Minnesota’s two NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, the Masonic Cancer Center and Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, along with the Hormel Institute in Austin.

"This MnDRIVE initiative fuels research that addresses a pressing challenge—access to world-class cancer care for Minnesotans in every corner of our state,” said University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler. “We are grateful for the State of Minnesota’s support for the University’s work to advance innovative and quality healthcare for Minnesotans.”

“Early cancer screening and world-class care saved my life,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “The $8 million in new MnDRIVE funding secured last session will help ensure greater access to new cancer treatments and enhanced care for patients across Minnesota.”

Nearly half of all Minnesotans will be diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening cancer during their lifetime. Today, access to clinical cancer trials is difficult for many Minnesotans; 56 percent of state residents live more than 30 miles from a hospital or clinic that offers access to such trials. By bringing cancer clinical trials to those living in Greater Minnesota, the MNCCTN will increase access to potentially lifesaving and life-changing therapies and treatments, strengthen healthcare systems, create more equitable access to care and potentially improve cancer outcomes throughout the state.

"It was an honor to serve as the chief author of legislation to support this network," said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls. "As the higher education chairman in the House, I am pleased to see the U of M take the lead on such an important project. I look forward to seeing this endeavor bring positive results in cancer treatments and care delivery."

The MNCCTN is a collaboration between the Masonic Cancer Center, Essentia Health Community Oncology Research Program, Fairview Health Services, The Hormel Institute, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium, and Sanford Community Oncology Program of the North Central Plains. In all, there will be 18 new locations across Minnesota that will participate in MNCCTN cancer clinical trials in the first year of the program with additional sites across the state to be added in the subsequent years.

The first 18 locations across Minnesota are: Aitkin, Albert Lea, Austin, Cambridge, Deer River, Detroit Lakes, Fosston, Grand Rapids, Hastings, Hibbing, Mankato, Monticello, Park Rapids, Princeton, Thief River Falls, Virginia and Worthington. Hibbing will host two locations—one through Fairview and the other through Essentia Health. There are plans to increase the number of locations in future years, making it that much easier for physicians to find an appropriate trial for their patients and making it more convenient and timely for the patients to participate.

The MNCCTN is led by Senior Manager Marie L. Rahne, MBA, who will lead the administrative efforts. Dr. Charles Loprinzi, a medical oncologist with Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, is the newly appointed MNCCTN medical director.

For more information about the MNCCTN visit: mncancertrials.umn.edu.

About the Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network
The Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN) is a cancer clinical trials network with locations across Minnesota, funded by the Minnesota Legislature as a part of the University of Minnesota's overall MnDRIVE strategic investment request. Led by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, MNCCTN partner organizations aim to improve cancer outcomes for all Minnesotans through greater access to cancer clinical trials in prevention and treatment.

About the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
TheMasonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota is a Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute. For more than 25 years, researchers, educators and care providers have worked to discover the causes, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and cancer-related disease. Learn more at cancer.umn.edu.