Resource Blog/Media/MCI Ahluwalia 2024 Cancer Research HERO


Cancer Researchers Are Advancing Care in South Florida

Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute

Its estimated that more than 2 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2024. This sobering news highlights the importance of research and is driving physician-investigators with Baptist Health Cancer Care to lead groundbreaking clinical trials that will increase the number of novel treatment options and extend the lives of cancer patients.


Miami Cancer Institute and the Eugene M. & Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health, offer several hundred clinical trials and research studies for cancers that include breast, lung, colorectal, brain, pancreatic and prostate. The Institutes are also working to increase screening numbers for early detection and to decrease detriments of health that can negatively impact outcomes, particularly among underserved and minority populations, a key concern worldwide.


The initiatives tie in directly to President Joe Bidens Cancer Moonshot program, which aims to decrease the age-adjusted cancer death rate by 50 percent in the next 25 years.


Research is vital to gain insights that improve care and move us closer to finding cures,” says Manmeet Ahluwalia, M.D., MBA, FASCO, Fernandez Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and deputy director, chief of medical oncology and chief scientific officer at Miami Cancer Institute and Baptist Health Cancer Care. At the same time, we must work to surmount significant challenges, particularly to overcome long-established health disparities that prevent equal access to diagnostic care, standard-of-care therapies and novel treatments.”


Preferred Ahluwalia Headshot

Manmeet Ahluwalia, M.D., MBA, FASCO, Fernandez Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and deputy director, chief of medical oncology and chief scientific officer at Miami Cancer Institute and Baptist Health Cancer Care


To ensure that the latest advances are reaching all cancer patients, Miami Cancer Institute has established the Center for Equity in Cancer Care & Research. Among the Centers goals is boosting diverse participation in clinical trials by 50 percent in the next two to three years.


A few of the noteworthy clinical trials are:


·      Two trials using novel therapeutic approaches to treat patients with acute myeloid leukemia, which has a high rate of recurrence. The first uses CRISPR technology to down-regulate a donor’s gene, removing CD33 from healthy cells so that only the cancer cells are targeted. The second uses CAR T-cells, a form of immunotherapy, to destroy the leukemia cells.


·      A study using ablative stereotactic magnetic resonance-guided adaptive radiation therapy to improve local control and overall survival in patients with borderline resectable and locally advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

·      A Phase I trial of trastuzumab deruxtecan with stereotactic radiosurgery in patients with brain metastases from HER-2-positive breast cancer to effectively shrink or eliminate brain tumors.


·      A Phase III trial of stereotactic radiosurgery with or without tumor treating fields therapy for patients with one to 10 brain metastases from non-small cell lung cancer to delay disease relapse.


Many of the clinical trials involve collaborators around the world. Miami Cancer Institute is Floridas only member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance. The health system also partners with other organizations and worked with LUNGevity to develop the first lung cancer screening program for Hispanics, who have had a substantially lower screening rate than the rest of the population. The campaign resulted in a 55 percent increase in lung cancer screenings, using low-dose CT scans. These partnerships harness the combined efforts and knowledge of experts from different cultural and scientific backgrounds, as well as providing a more diverse population for study.


In addition to clinical trials, Baptist Health is home to many innovative cancer treatments. For example, Miami Cancer Institute was the first in the Southeast to perform a successful uterine transposition surgery to protect fertility in a patient with colorectal cancer who was preparing to undergo radiation therapy. It was also among the first in the region to offer radiopharmaceutical therapy to extend survival and increase quality of life for patients with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer. And a first in Palm Beach County, Lynn Cancer Institute recently began offering high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), a minimally invasive procedure, for some patients with prostate cancer.


Under a new collaboration between Baptist Health and Florida International University, physicians and researchers will work together to drive advances critical to treating patients and saving lives while expanding physician training and research.


Theres every reason to have an optimistic outlook for cancer care when we consider all of the initiatives we are leading,” Dr. Ahluwalia says. We are excited to play such a significant part in advancing cancer care.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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