Sixty-one-year-old Emanuel “Manny” Roth (above) was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in December 2000. He was admitted to Emory Hospital in January 2001 and received treatment under a protocol WCI was conducting with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “I was on so many medications, I had to have a spreadsheet,” says Roth, who is now in remission.

For the two and a half years he received chemotherapy, Roth says, his doctors always included him in crafting his treatment plan. “Cancer is survivable. But the thing about cancer is that it envelops you, your family members, and your friends,” says Roth, who is now an Emory volunteer in the new WCI building. “One of the things that helped me cope was that I felt like I was a part of the team. Instead of being a victim, I was proactively helping myself.”














































































































About fifteen hundred Americans die of cancer every day.

Georgia has been hit especially hard with breast, cervical, prostate, lung, and colon cancers, particularly among its poor and minority residents. But the state remains the largest in the nation without a federal cancer center.

Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute (WCI) is aiming to be the first.

This summer, the institute moved into a state-of-the-art, $75-million building on Uppergate Drive behind Emory Clinic A. The first four levels provide patient care and services; the top three floors are dedicated to research.

The National Cancer Institute, which disperses federal funds for cancer research, turned down Emory’s initial request to become a comprehensive cancer center in 1996.

With subsequent improvements–including the WCI’s new home, an expanded mission that includes prevention and education, dozens of additional faculty, and a 400 percent jump in federal grants in the past three years–the University is moving confidently toward a second attempt.

So far, signs are promising: in September, Emory received a five-year, $1.9 million federal planning grant, which helps promising cancer centers strengthen their research programs.

This success is due, in part, to Jonathan Simons, formerly a prostate cancer researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who took the helm of the WCI in 2001.

Simons recruited prestigious researchers and clinicians to Emory from the best-known cancer facilities in the country–M.D. Anderson at the University of Texas, the University of Virginia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and the National Cancer Institute. The scholars were wooed with support from the Georgia Cancer Coalition, a $1 billion public-private effort to boost cancer research financed by the state’s tobacco settlement funds, private money, and federal grants.

The new building in which these researchers will work is a “discovery accelerator,” says Simons, where all of the WCI’s collective brain power can mingle. Each of the research floors has an open lab as long as a football field in the center, surrounded by faculty offices. Translational research–taking ideas from the drawing board to the patients’ bedside–is what the new facility is all about.

The WCI brings clinical services under one roof as well: radiation oncology and imaging, bone marrow transplant clinic, ambulatory infusion center, breast imaging center, medical and surgical oncology department and exam rooms. There is also a cafe, counseling center, and chapel.

“We have designed the new Winship Cancer Institute as a pavilion,” says Simons, “in which patients with cancer, their families, physicians, nurses, and researchers are all brought together under one roof.”

The WCI was established in 1937 with a gift from Robert W. Woodruff, and is made up of more than two hundred Emory School of Medicine faculty. WCI researchers have been awarded several substantial grants recently, the largest of which was $10 million from the Department of Defense to fund a prostate cancer research consortium. Through Web-based videoconferencing and data sharing technologies, investigators from thirteen universities in eight states will work together “as if they were all in one giant laboratory,” says Simons.

Emory and the WCI are involved in several other efforts to improve treatment and decrease cancer rates in Georgia. In March, the state’s first Cancer Center for Excellence opened a $31.3 million facility on two remodeled floors of Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta, staffed largely by Emory doctors and researchers. The Georgia Cancer Coalition donated $28 million toward creating the center, and the Avon Foundation donated $3 million toward its breast health system.

As the first of four regional cancer centers planned by the Georgia Cancer Coalition, the center will strive to lower the disproportionate number of cancer deaths among African Americans and the poor.

“I believe that a big part of the reason these disparities exist is in the quality of care received,” says Otis Brawley, director of the Grady cancer center and associate director for cancer control at the WCI. “We’re trying to find the best way to provide good, adequate care to a population that has not received it in the past. We are trying to answer some basic questions that have gone unanswered for too long.”

Michael M.E. Johns, executive vice president for health affairs and director of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, says Georgia clearly needed a stellar cancer research and treatment center, and he is gratified that one now exists at Emory.

“The opening of the new Winship Cancer Institute building is a very special moment for Emory, for everyone involved, and for our patients,” Johns says. “This building is a symbol for us–it represents the long road we took to arrive here, and the long road ahead of us. Here, the patient is really at the center of our efforts.”–M.J.L.

Grady gets grants to ease overcrowding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded Grady Health System a $250,000 demonstration grant and $125,000 in technical assistance funds to research and reduce emergency room overcrowding. Project director is Leon L. Haley Jr., assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at the School of Medicine.

Fuqua Chair in Late-Life Depression

Businessman and philanthropist J. B. Fuqua has pledged $2 million to endow the J. B. Fuqua Chair in Late-Life Depression in the School of Medicine. This pledge follows $2 million in gifts from Fuqua beginning in 1999 to help found and support the Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression at Wesley Woods. William McDonald, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression, has been nominated as the initial Fuqua chair holder. Board-certified in psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry, McDonald’s focus is on mood disorders, including mania and depression in older persons and those with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s dementia.

Emory Hospital ranked as one of America’s best

U.S. News & World Report has named Emory Hospital one of America’s Best Hospitals in seven medical specialties, including cardiology, where Emory is again included in the Top 10 for the thirteenth time since the magazine’s rankings began in 1990. This year Emory’s program in heart and heart surgery finished seventh and was the only heart program in Georgia included in the nation’s top 50. Also included in this year’s rankings were Emory’s programs in eye care (15), geriatrics (41), gynecology (39), kidney disease (28), psychiatry (17) and urology (32). Each of those programs was the only one in Georgia listed in its specialty area, as well.

HIV treatment approved

A one-capsule, once-daily medication discovered at Emory for the treatment of HIV has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for commercial use. Emtriva (emtricitabine) can help to lower the amount of HIV, or “viral load,” in a patient’s body and increase the number of immune system cells, decreasing the likelihood of AIDS-related illnesses. Emtriva was invented by Emory scientists Raymond Schinazi, Dennis Liotta, and Woo-Baeg Choi, president of FOB Synthesis, a drug discovery company at the Emtech Center on the Briarcliff campus.














© 2003 Emory University