KU Cancer Center Activates More Than 125 Early-Phase Clinical Trials in Past Eight Years

Clinical trials expand treatment options, boost economy


By Roy Jensen, MD, Director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center

At The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s state-of-the-art Clinical Research Center, funded by the Johnson County Education Research Triangle (JCERT), physician-scientists are sowing the seeds for new, more effective cancer treatments.

Each FDA-approved therapy available today is an outgrowth of research, and clinical trials are a vital part of the drug-discovery and -development journey.

Upward Trajectory
Since its launch in 2012, the Clinical Research Center has activated more than 125 early-phase clinical trials. Early-phase, or phase I, trials are the initial step in testing new patient therapies. Between 2017 and 2019, early-phase clinical trials participation increased by more than 100 percent; during the last 10 years, we’ve enrolled more than 22,600 participants across all phases and types of clinical trials. Our clinical trial team has doubled in size since 2012.

To our patients, more clinical trials mean additional therapy options and the ability to play an active role in important treatment decisions. If you qualify for a clinical trial, you are an advocate in your care and can . Participating in a clinical trial may make you feel as if you have more control over your health, which can lead to a more positive outlook on life.

The impact doesn’t stop there. Clinical trials boost local and regional economies. A 2017 report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America found the biopharmaceutical industry spent about $15 billion in clinical research that generated more than $42 billion in economic activity. According to JCERT’s 2019 Economic Impact report, the 1/8-cent sales tax has generated approximately $15 million per year on average and returns an average of more than $64 million per year in economic impact.

The Next Step
Largely due to an aging population, the number of cancer diagnoses are predicted to increase 45 to 50 percent over the next decade. Fifty percent of men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

We need to develop more effective cancer therapies to thwart this predicted onslaught. This is why we must maintain our NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center status, the next step in our quest to conquer all cancers. NCI designation is the gold standard awarded to cancer centers undertaking trailblazing research and leadership in developing cutting-edge treatments. Being one of only 71 NCI-designated centers in the United States means access to more research dollars, which helps us grow our team of internationally renowned researchers and clinical-trial offerings.

I am so proud of our clinical trial accomplishments, and I am thankful for our staff members, patients, donors and community supporters. It is because of them that we are able to offer tomorrow’s treatments, today.