April 13, 2007

Berlin to lead VICC’s clinical trials efforts

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Jordan Berlin, M.D.

Berlin to lead VICC’s clinical trials efforts

Jordan Berlin, M.D., has been named medical director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's Clinical Trials Shared Resource (CTSR).

In this role, Berlin has oversight and decision-making authority for the Cancer Center's clinical trials efforts; he also oversees the work of the Scientific Review, Resource Allocation and the Data Safety and Monitoring committees.

“Dr. Berlin has the experience, dedication and collegial spirit vital to leading this important component of our work,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., interim director of the Cancer Center.

“Clinical trials are critical to our mission as a cancer center. They are the pivotal link between the basic research, which is our foundation, and the advancement of patient care, which is our ultimate objective.

“With Dr. Berlin's leadership — and, importantly, with the full support of cancer clinical trials from Dr. Harry Jacobson and Vanderbilt Medical Center leadership — I have great confidence the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center will continue to grow as a premiere clinical research center, both regionally and nationally.”

Berlin has been a faculty member and clinical director of the gastrointestinal oncology program since 1999.

He has led or played pivotal development roles in more than 30 investigator-initiated, cooperative group and industry trials on the local and national levels.

Clinical trials, which offer access to innovative new therapies still under investigation, are a key component to what makes a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center like Vanderbilt-Ingram, and they represent an important treatment option for many cancer patients. However, nationwide, fewer than 4 percent of eligible cancer patients participate in clinical trials, the National Cancer Institute estimates.

Berlin called clinical trials “the heart and soul” of a cancer center.

“Basic science is the key to what makes our center great, but if we don't translate that research into clinical trials, then we don't benefit the patient,” Berlin said.

“We have a stronger connection between the laboratory scientists and the clinicians than any other institution in the country, no question. Our clinical trials core resource must be equally strong to support that connection and that research.

“A robust, lean, fast and efficient clinical trials core resource is critical to the long-term success of any cancer center.

“I am enthusiastic about working with the cancer clinical trials team, with Drs. Jim Whitlock and John Kuttesch (who head the Resource Allocation and Scientific Review committees) and with other colleagues in the Cancer Center, the IRB, the Department of Finance and other departments whose contributions are key to our success,” Berlin said.