UArizona Health Sciences, Cancer Center Launching Arizona Clinical Trials Network

Monday, March 29, 2021

Arizona residents, including underserved and underrepresented populations, will have better access to cutting-edge cancer therapies as the UArizona Cancer Center offers its clinical trials at locations across the state.

To provide Arizonans with better access to the latest developments in precision health care, the University of Arizona Health Sciences is launching the Arizona Clinical Trials Network. The UArizona Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Insitute-designated comprehensive cancer center headquartered in the state, will pilot the launch of the network. 

The network is a collaboration among communities, hospitals and physicians that will enable the university’s clinical research to reach more patients. The Cancer Center will be the first to participate and offer its clinical trials through the Arizona Clinical Trials Network (ACTN), but the network may expand to other UArizona Health Sciences departments or centers in the future.

“This kind of collaboration between sectors is one of Arizona’s greatest strengths. We all share a vision for the impact the Arizona Clinical Trials Network can have for patients across Arizona, especially those in underserved areas of the state,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins, MD. “I am very proud the University of Arizona Cancer Center is initiating this network, and I am excited for what this will mean for the people of Arizona.”

“One of our key initiatives at the University of Arizona Health Sciences is to make precision health available and practical for everyone,” said Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Michael D. Dake, MD. “This new network can help us achieve that by taking our research and cutting-edge therapies to health clinics throughout the state that are closer and more convenient for the patient.”

The network will expand access to Cancer Center clinical trials by joining together with health clinics across Arizona. The Cancer Center is in the process of finalizing the first medical sites that will participate in the ACTN.

“We are going to start off small as we decide on the locations for launching the network,” said Joann Sweasy, PhD, UArizona Cancer Center director and inaugural holder of the Nancy C. and Craig M. Berge Endowed Chair. “Then, as we engage with our communities and identify the specific cancer needs of each of these diverse communities, we will expand strategically so that we can offer cancer treatment and prevention trials for everyone in the state. It is an opportunity that cancer centers dream about.”

The ACTN is expected to cover a breadth of clinical trials across the cancer-care continuum reflective of all malignancies, treatment modalities and stages of cancer. It will also provide culturally sensitive training with the help of the Cancer Center’s Community Outreach and Engagement team to allow for network building with the various populations representing the state of Arizona.

Rachna T. Shroff, MD, medical director for the Cancer Center’s Clinical Trials Office, has been appointed director for the ACTN. 

“Everyone invested in this initiative understands that there are underserved areas in Arizona that absolutely need access to our clinical research,” Dr. Shroff said. “Our expertise spans the entire spectrum of multidisciplinary cancer care, from prevention to early detection to treatment to supportive care. Now, we intend to provide the same type of quality care, education and cutting-edge therapies to patients regardless of where they live in our state.”