Kaiser Permanente will boost its cancer clinical trials program in the Sacramento region and elsewhere, thanks to a new, five-year, $7.3 million award from the National Cancer Institute.

The Kaiser program will serve one out of every 40 cancer patients in the United States. The Kaiser grant includes clinical trials in Kaiser’s Northern California, Southern California, Northwest, Colorado and Hawaii regions.

Kaiser’s Roseville, Sacramento and south Sacramento hospitals participate in the program and enroll about a quarter of the 3,500 Kaiser patients in active in cancer clinical trials in Northern California.

The funding will be used to boost infrastructure, including staff, said Dr. Louis Fehrenbacher, director of Kaiser’s oncology clinical trials program in Northern California. About 10 research nurses and data coordination staff work on clinical trials across the three local hospitals; Fehrenbacher anticipates hiring one or two more.

“Every Kaiser member has access to clinical trials,” he said. They include research into new treatments for lung, colon, breast and prostate cancer, as well as comparing existing treatments on a patient-by-patient basis.

The grant also funds new research on cancer care delivery.

“This is not person-to-person, but how systems lead to better outcomes, whether prepaid health care or fee-for-service at the VA,” Fehrenbacher said. “We are a large health system with great informatics — and can contribute quite a bit.”


This article was originally published in the Sacramento Business Journal on Aug. 5, 2014