Advocate Aurora Health expands cancer research with $10.2 million in federal funding

The six-year award — largest in the health system’s history — will help increase access to National Cancer Institute clinical trials at more than 30 local cancer clinics throughout Illinois and Wisconsin
Aurora Health Care will continue to play a leading role in bringing innovative clinical trials to patients with cancer across Wisconsin and now Illinois with a recent $10,173,928, six-year grant from National Cancer Institute (NCI).
NCI named the Wisconsin-based health system — part of the merged Advocate Aurora Health — an NCI Community Oncology Research Program site (National Institutes of Health award number 2UG1CA190140-06).
The recognition builds on Aurora’s initial five-year NCORP funding award and will allow Advocate Aurora Health to expand access to NCI clinical trials at more than 30 local cancer clinics throughout Wisconsin and Illinois.
“NCORP is a critical, federally funded program that allows our health system to bring cancer clinical trials to people in their own communities instead of restricting them to major research institutions,” said Thomas Saphner, MD, Aurora Health Care co-principal investigator along with Michael Thompson, MD, PhD. “We’re proud to have been selected to continue this important work as a partner of the National Cancer Institute.”
Larger network
As part of Aurora Health Care’s 2018 merger with Illinois-based Advocate Health Care, the health systems’ respective research arms — Aurora Research Institute and Advocate Research Institute — have begun the process of bringing Illinois cancer clinics into the Aurora NCORP network.
Thirteen Advocate cancer clinics across northeastern Illinois recently joined the network, accompanying the 18 existing Aurora cancer clinics across eastern Wisconsin. The Illinois sites include a children’s hospital with two campuses, which will enable Aurora NCORP to participate in pediatric clinical trials.
Although new to NCORP, Advocate has participated in hundreds of NCI clinical trials.
“This marks the first major joint research initiative for Advocate Aurora Health’s research arms,” said Sigrun Hallmeyer, MD, the Advocate principal investigator for the NCORP grant.
Building on success
Aurora Health Care completed its initial five-year NCORP funding cycle in July, receiving more than $4.6 million from NCI since 2014.
“Over the past five years, participation in NCORP has allowed Aurora Research Institute to connect patients to a wide variety of clinical trials, including those for brain, breast, lung and prostate cancers, as well as for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma,” Dr. Thompson said.
During the initial five-year grant, Aurora NCORP opened 78 new NCI trials that enrolled more than 1,200 participants. Aurora NCORP was recognized several times by Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and NRG Oncology as a top-enrolling NCORP site.
“As one of the 10 largest not-for-profit health systems in the country, Advocate Aurora Health serves patients across eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois, in communities both small and large,” said Randall Lambrecht, PhD, president of Advocate Aurora Health Research Institute and system vice president of Advocate Aurora Health. “NCORP provides our researchers with the resources to conduct National Cancer Institute clinical trials within these communities, which generates more broadly applicable findings that we can use to improve cancer treatments.”
To learn more about Aurora NCORP, visit
The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Aurora Health Care oncologists Michael Thompson, MD, and Thomas Saphner, MD

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