Prioritizing Collaboration to Better Serve the Community
The spirit of collaboration can define an institution and heighten its impact in the community. Since its founding, this approach has been the cornerstone of innovation at Fox Chase Cancer Center, which has continued to demonstrate its relevance through its valuable integration with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) at Temple University.
This collaboration reaches not just across campuses but across departments and specialties, garnering insights from a broad range of experts that affect patient experience, care, and outcomes. The results of these partnerships can be seen in areas such as research and clinical trials, where combined efforts have contributed to the development of new approaches for cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
In the clinical space especially, these partnerships are essential to providing a clear path forward for Fox Chase and LKSOM. To better advance this goal, Martin Edelman, MD, Associate Director for Clinical Research Integration and Chair of the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Fox Chase, was recently appointed the inaugural Chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at LKSOM. He was chosen for his proven track record of collaboration with clinical, scientific, and administrative leadership to grow robust therapeutic, clinical research, and translational research programs in hematology and medical oncology.
In addition to his leadership at Fox Chase, he has developed a strategic vision for the department that incorporates the tripartite mission of LKSOM and Temple Health: clinical care, education, and research. This plan is guiding the new department’s growth in medical oncology and will continue to do so over the coming years to advance patient care; the cultivation of the next generation of physicians and other healthcare professionals; and achievement in grant awards, scholarly publications, and annual presentations.
Additionally, prioritizing collaboration between Fox Chase and LKSOM has helped impact diversity at both institutions. Working with students at LKSOM are researchers like Camille Ragin, PhD, MPH, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Fox Chase. With her leadership, students are exposed to novel approaches to research that can have effects not only in their immediate communities but internationally as well.
Her development of award-winning programs like the Cancer Prevention Project of Philadelphia and the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium highlights the importance of collaboration in science and helps students learn to provide culturally competent, interprofessional care to a diverse population of patients.
Another initiative is the recent launch of the Fox Chase-Temple Urologic Institute, a groundbreaking initiative that will concentrate on both benign and oncologic urology. With over 20 urologists on faculty, the institute will provide services at multiple locations throughout the greater Philadelphia area and includes faculty from both Fox Chase and LKSOM.
Through these and many other collaborative efforts, Fox Chase and LKSOM are poised to continue fostering an environment of scientific discovery that paves the way for future generations of physicians to address not only the challenges they see in the clinic, but the barriers to care present in their own communities.
Fox Chase Nationally Ranked by U.S. News & World Report
Fox Chase Cancer Center has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in its 2023 Best Hospital rankings. The center earned a national ranking of 42nd for cancer and 13th for urology, making it among the country’s Top 50 Hospitals in each of these clinical areas.
Known for its well-regarded “Best” series of consumer guides, U.S. News releases rankings in various categories for Best Hospitals every year. These guides are designed to help patients determine which hospitals provide the best care for the most serious or complicated medical conditions and procedures.
Welcoming Charnita Zeigler-Johnson
Charnita Zeigler-Johnson, PhD, MPH, joined Fox Chase as Associate Director of Community Outreach and Engagement.
Charnita Zeigler-Johnson, PhD, MPH, has joined Fox Chase as Associate Director of Community Outreach and Engagement. Zeigler-Johnson will oversee the activities of the program as its academic lead.
“A dynamic leader with expertise in community-engaged research, Dr. Zeigler-Johnson will work collaboratively with our community partners as well as our cancer center leadership and clinical chairs to identify and address the needs of the communities we serve and to integrate community-engaged research across our scientific programs at Fox Chase and throughout Temple Health,” said Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD, Cancer Center Director.
Zeigler-Johnson joined Fox Chase from Thomas Jefferson University, where she was an associate professor in the Division of Population Science, Department of Medical Oncology, and an associate professor in the College of Population Health. She also served as an adjunct scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania.
A well-funded investigator with more than 60 peer-reviewed publications to her credit, Zeigler-Johnson’s research interests focus on the relationship between community history and prostate cancer disparities, as well as increasing lung cancer screening access and adherence in vulnerable populations.
New Department of Urology
Fox Chase formed a new Department of Urology that will be Chaired by Alexander Kutikov, MD, FACS, the Roberta R. Scheller Chair in Urologic Oncology. Jay Simhan, MD, FACS, Professor and Director of Reconstructive Urology, will be the department Vice Chair. Kristen Ragusa will be the new department’s Lead Administrator.
Robert Uzzo, MD, MBA, FACS, President and CEO of Fox Chase and a world-renowned urologic surgeon himself, said he feels “immense pride” in seeing the urology team grow and mature. “This milestone highlights the dedication and expertise of our outstanding group of urologic surgeons,” Uzzo said.
Jack H. Mydlo, MD, MBA, FACS, Chair of Urology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, said the new department deepens the already working relationship of Temple Health urologists. “This is a wonderful testament to my colleagues at Fox Chase. I look forward to close collaboration and continued integration of efforts between the Temple Health campuses.”
Sixth Consecutive Magnet Designation
Fox Chase achieved Magnet designation for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center for the sixth consecutive time. Fox Chase has held Magnet status continuously since 2000, when it became the first hospital in Pennsylvania and the first specialty hospital in the United States to achieve Magnet designation.
“Earning Magnet status once is a great honor, but to earn it six consecutive times truly speaks to the level of nursing care that Fox Chase offers its patients,” said Anna Liza Rodriguez, MSN, MHA, RN, OCN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Nursing and Patient Services. “We are truly humbled to be among an elite group of institutions who have received this distinction.”
“Earning Magnet status once is a great honor, but to earn it six consecutive times truly speaks to the level of nursing care that Fox Chase offers its patients.”
ANNA LIZA RODRIGUEZ MSN, MHA, RN, OCN, NEA-BC Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Nursing and Patient Services
A Magnet designation is used as the gold standard for quality of care and recognizes hospitals that exemplify excellence in nursing. Only about 10% of hospitals nationwide have attained this designation. Fox Chase has achieved it six times, which places it among only about 2% of hospitals nationwide.
“I am proud of our nursing department, physicians, and other departments who collaborate and continue to achieve increasing levels of an outstanding patient experience. The people who work here make us Magnet,” said Kathy Wolf, MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, Director of Magnet/Nursing Quality at Fox Chase.
A dedicated group of 367 volunteers donated 78,182 hours of service.
Fox Chase-Temple Urologic Institute Launches
“Our team of urologists and advanced clinicians have experience treating some of the most complex and advanced oncologic and benign urologic conditions.”
ROBERT UZZO, MD, MBA, FACS President and CEO of Fox Chase and Executive Director of the Fox Chase-Temple Urologic Institute
Fox Chase Cancer Center and Temple Health launched the Fox Chase-Temple Urologic Institute, a groundbreaking initiative that will concentrate on both benign and oncologic urology. With over 30 urologists and advanced providers on faculty, the institute will provide services at multiple locations throughout the greater Philadelphia area.
“Our team of urologists and advanced clinicians have experience treating some of the most complex and advanced oncologic and benign urologic conditions. As leaders in the field, our urologists not only stay on top of the latest changes in medicine but often lead the development of new treatment advances and surgical techniques,” said Robert Uzzo, MD, MBA, FACS, President and CEO of Fox Chase and Executive Director of the institute.
The new institute’s executive management team includes Alexander Kutikov, MD, FACS, Chair of the Department of Urology at Fox Chase; Jay Simhan, MD, FACS, the department Vice Chair; Jack H. Mydlo, MD, MBA, Chair of the Department of Urology at the Temple University Hospital; and Daniel Eun, MD, Professor and Director of the Robotic Urologic Surgery Clinical Fellowship Program at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.
Beyond general urologic care, the highly experienced benign urology team specializes in less common procedures. The institute will also be home to one of the busiest upper urinary tract reconstructive centers in the world.
The Fox Chase-Temple Urologic Institute will offer patients access to cutting-edge clinical trials, targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and advanced radiation therapies for the treatment of urologic cancers. The institute’s team will leverage their extensive experience as one of the largest fellowship-trained genitourinary cancer teams in the country.
The leadership of the new Fox Chase-Temple Urologic Institute:
ROBERT UZZO, MD, MBA, FACS President and CEO, Fox Chase Cancer Center
ALEXANDER KUTIKOV, MD, FACS Chair of the Department of Urology, Fox Chase Cancer Center
DANIEL D. EUN, MD Director of the Robotic Urologic Surgery Clinical Fellowship Program at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
JACK H. MYDLO, MD, MBA, FACS Chair of the Department of Urology, Temple University Hospital
JAY SIMHAN, MD, FACS Vice Chair of the Department of Urology, Fox Chase Cancer Center
Research Collaboration With Industry
Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center teamed with Oryzon Genomics S.A. to test the safety and efficacy of the drug iadademstat in patients with pulmonary and extrapulmonary neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs), which are rare and heterogeneous cancers arising from neuroendocrine cells, and small cell lung cancer.
“NECs are difficult to diagnose and treat because these types of carcinomas behave differently depending on where they grow in the body. There are very few treatment options for these patients and even fewer trials, which makes this effort even more important,” said Associate Professor Namrata “Neena” Vijayvergia, MD, principal investigator on the study and member of the Cancer Epigenetics Institute (CEI).
Hossein Borghaei, DO, MS, the Gloria and Edmund M. Dunn Chair in Thoracic Surgical Oncology, Chief of the Division of Thoracic Medical Oncology, and a member of the CEI, is a co-principal investigator for the trial. Pooja Ghatalia, MD, who is also a member of the CEI, is a co-leader for the project.
Iadademstat is an orally available, highly potent, and selective inhibitor of the epigenetic enzyme lysine-specific histone demethylase 1. It was first discovered in the lab of Yang Shi, PhD, at Harvard Medical School. Johnathan Whetstine, PhD, Director of the CEI, was part of the discovery in Yang’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow and is a co-investigator on the new trial at Fox Chase.
“It is so gratifying to be part of a trial born from discoveries I was part of from the very beginning and be at an institution where I can facilitate clinical application,” Whetstine said.
Identifying Drivers of Cancer Disparities
Fox Chase Cancer Center and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center have begun a collaboration with Pfizer’s Institute of Translational Equitable Medicine to launch a cancer genomics study to characterize novel genetic, molecular, and social determinants of cancer across populations of African ancestry.
“This registry will allow us to conduct studies that will add to the limited available data for Blacks, including genetics, genomics, and gene-environment interaction studies that will help to fill specific knowledge gaps in the literature addressing aggressive disease in African ancestry cancer patients,” said Camille Ragin, PhD, MPH, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Fox Chase and leader of the African-Caribbean Cancer Consortium (AC3).
“People of African ancestry disproportionately develop aggressive, high-grade cancers, particularly in breast and prostate tissues, and the underlying driving factors are not well understood,” said Sophia HL George, PhD, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System, and co-leader of the AC3 Women’s Cancer Working Group.
Fox Chase registered 125,461 outpatient visits and 14,151 new patients.
New NCI Prevention Initiative
Fox Chase was awarded a grant for $6 million over the course of five years to develop a new Cancer Prevention-Interception Targeted Agent Discovery Program (CAP-IT). The new National Cancer Institute (NCI) program was created to establish a pipeline for the discovery of new cancer prevention agents.
Margie Clapper, PhD, the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Endowed Chair in Cancer Prevention and Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program at Fox Chase, led the successful grant application and will serve as Program Director.
“We were selected, along with Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, as the founding members of this new NCI initiative. My lab is dedicated to developing new therapies for the prevention of cancer and has been for 30 years. The CAP-IT provides an opportunity for other scientists across Fox Chase to contribute to this mission in a meaningful way,” said Clapper.
The goal of the CAP-IT center, which will be comprised of several research laboratories and shared resources within Fox Chase, is to coordinate the development of molecularly targeted therapies for precision cancer prevention and early interception in populations at high risk for cancer. While prevention aims to stop cancer before it begins, early interception refers to disrupting the development of cancer in its earliest stages.
Second Highest Cancer Surgery Volume in Pennsylvania
According to the 2022 Cancer Surgery Volume Report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), Fox Chase performed the second highest number of cancer surgeries in the state of Pennsylvania in the last fiscal year.
Considered by surgical type, Fox Chase Cancer Center performed more bladder cancer surgeries than any other hospital in the state, and ranked second highest for colon, liver, lung, prostate, and stomach cancer.
“Data from PHC4 does not control for the size of the hospital, so being second in volumes when we are not the second largest hospital is even more impactful,” said Robert Uzzo, MD, MBA, FACS, President and CEO of Fox Chase. “Because we know that higher volumes are linked to better outcomes, these numbers indicate that Fox Chase is a top performer for cancer surgery in the region. We hope these statistics will be helpful in providing cancer patients and their families with information to make important decisions.”
African-Caribbean Cancer Consortium Honored
The African-Caribbean Cancer Consortium (AC3), a multi-institutional collaborative network that focuses on studies of cancer risk and outcomes among populations of African ancestry, received the American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award. Camille Ragin, PhD, MPH, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Fox Chase, heads the network.
“It is the scientific diversity and dedication of our AC3 team that makes us impactful. We are a multidisciplinary team of basic, translational, and clinical scientists, and advocate from countries within the African diaspora,” said Ragin, who is also a Professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program. “We have investigators in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. We are committed to developing minority scientists to bring diverse insights and hypotheses to more quickly propel cancer discoveries for prevention and treatment.”
Skalka Receives Reimann Honor Award
Anna Marie Skalka, PhD, Senior Advisor to the President and Professor Emerita, was recognized with the Stanley P. Reimann Honor Award, Fox Chase’s highest distinction.
“In light of her long and distinguished career at Fox Chase and elsewhere, Ann is most deserving of this great honor,” said Cancer Center Director Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD, who bestowed the award on Skalka. “Her body of work highlights the storied history that Fox Chase has in scientific research and education.”
Stanley P. Reimann, MD, for whom the award is named, was the founder of the Institute for Cancer Research, which merged with the American Oncologic Hospital in 1974 to form Fox Chase Cancer Center.
In addition to this new honor, Skalka is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was awarded the 2018 Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement and Communications.