Allegheny Health Network and Johns Hopkins Medicine announced today that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to seek to establish a formal affiliation between Allegheny and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, for clinical collaborations, medical education, and a broad range of cancer research initiatives. Details of an initial five-year affiliation outlined in the MOU are expected to be finalized within the next few months, officials of the institutions say.
When launched, the organizations will collaborate on an array of initiatives that will benefit cancer patients within the Allegheny Health Network. Allegheny Health Network is a large Western Pennsylvania-based healthcare system whose multi-disciplinary cancer treatment and research programs provide a complete spectrum of oncology care.
“We are extremely excited to share such important news with our community, our cancer patients, our dedicated staff and the region at large. In seeking to affiliate with the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Allegheny Health Network will be better able to meet the current and growing healthcare care needs of the communities we serve today as well as play a critical role in helping establish new standards of cancer care innovation and quality for the future,” says David Parda, M.D., Chair of the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute.
The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center is one of the nation’s 41 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute, and one of the first to earn that status. Research led by its faculty is among the most highly-cited in cancer research and clinical care. Hopkins has pioneered fields such as cancer genetics, bone marrow transplant medicine and cancer immunotherapy.
As part of the affiliation, it is anticipated that the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center will provide continuing medical education opportunities to physicians and nurses across the Allegheny Health Network. In addition, Hopkins plans to offer a physician-to-physician consultation service to the Network’s clinicians for rare cancer cases and novel therapies and provide Allegheny patients with access to its clinical cancer trials. The two institutions also expect to participate in joint projects designed to improve the quality and safety of cancer care.
“This collaboration would provide us with new opportunities for cancer research within a broad-based Western Pennsylvania health system that already has strength in a wide range of cancer treatments and research programs,” says William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. “In the changing landscape of healthcare services, innovative initiatives like this will keep us at the forefront of discovery and patient-centered care.”
As part of a future affiliation agreement, a fund for cancer research would be established that spans bench to bedside research interests at Johns Hopkins and Allegheny Health Network. Research would focus on basic science efforts to reveal cancer triggers and treatments, clinical trials of new treatments, and quality of life and survival outcomes research.
“In the fight against cancer, multi-institutional collaborations over the years have produced incredible discoveries and new treatment paradigms that have greatly advanced the care of those diagnosed with this formidable disease. We are grateful to the oncology leadership teams at both Hopkins and Allegheny for their vision and hard work in seeking to create this promising new affiliation,” says Tony Farah, M.D., Allegheny Health Network’s Chief Medical Officer.
Allegheny Health Network’s cancer research program currently includes more than 200 clinical trials offered throughout its network of hospitals and clinics. The Network is home to more than 80 medical, surgical and radiation oncology physician practices, one of the state’s largest bone marrow transplant and cellular therapy programs, and the nation’s largest – and western Pennsylvania’s only – radiation oncology network accredited by both the American Society for Radiation Oncology and American College of Radiology.
The National Cancer Institute-funded National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) chair Norman Wolmark, M.D., and a number of other NSABP leaders also have their clinical practices based at Allegheny General Hospital, the flagship academic medical center of Allegheny Health Network.
“Allegheny Health Network provides our region with a high quality choice for advanced healthcare services,” said Deborah Rice-Johnson, President, Highmark Health Plan.
Highmark Health, which includes Highmark Health Plans and Allegheny Health Network, is a diversified health services company based in Pittsburgh that serves 34 million people across the United States through businesses in health insurance, care delivery, dental insurance, vision care and information technology. Highmark Blue Cross, Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association that serves 5.3 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. Highmark’s Allegheny Health Network, created in 2013, is an integrated delivery healthcare network that includes eight hospitals, the Allegheny Clinic (a large physician group), a group purchasing organization and ambulatory surgery centers.
William Winkenwerder, Jr., M.D., CEO of Highmark Health, remarked that “today we have taken an important step towards ensuring that Highmark Health’s ability to serve patients will only grow stronger in the years ahead as the collective ingenuity and efforts of cancer specialists at Allegheny and Johns Hopkins translate into even better cancer care for our community.”