Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Hack ensack Meridian Health open joint treatment centers, bringing new standards of care to the garden state

by Jessica Jones Gorman • Photos By Amessé Photography

Announced in December, the strategic collaboration between Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Hackensack Meridian Health is intended to be a pathway to boosting New Jersey’s cancer services and bringing innovative treatments to the state. The partnership brings together two organizations with deep New Jersey roots to achieve what they describe as a single goal of finding advanced cures for a disease of which there are more than 100 types in humans.

“Patients will see the effect of this partnership right away,” noted Dr. Andrew Pecora, president of physician services and chief innovation officer with Hackensack Meridian Health. “At the patient level, the alliance will provide greater comfort and greater hope. And when faced with a cancer diagnosis, comfort and hope are vital.”

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The 10-year strategic synergistic relationship will combine both organizations’ expertise in all areas of cancer care and research to accelerate new discoveries and improve the lives of patients. Its initial stages will involve developing joint standards of care to optimize clinical outcomes, as well as setting clinical research priorities.

“What matters most to patients is the opportunity to have better outcomes,” Dr. Pecora said. “That’s why we’re taking the best of Sloan and the best of Hackensack Meridian and supercharging to discover and determine the best course of treatment.”

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer rates in New Jersey are higher than the national average. The Memorial Sloan Kettering–Hackensack Meridian Health partnership aims to improve care by providing support to patients all along the cancer care continuum, from diagnosis through treatment and into survivorship. Through it, patients will benefit from greater access to innovative concepts and treatments, including precision medicine, immunotherapy, and cell-based therapies.
And more New Jersey communities than ever will have access to hundreds of clinical trials.

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“We will now be able to exponentially increase and accelerate the number of trials we perform,” said Pecora, “and use big-data analysis to determine the best treatment modalities for each patient.”

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Each organization’s existing care sites in New Jersey— including Hackensack Meridian Health’s cancer care locations; the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack; and Memorial Sloan Kettering’s locations in Basking Ridge, Middletown, and Montvale (opening in 2018)—will be part of the Memorial Sloan Kettering–Hackensack Meridian Health partnership. Each will independently own, operate, and manage these existing sites.

“[The partnership] will discover new treatments, and train together,” said Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “The standard of care that we develop will be implemented at all Hackensack Meridian Health and Memorial Sloan Kettering partnership sites. And the sheer size and scope of what we do will impact cancer care everywhere.”

The partnership also supports Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot initiative, which calls for unprecedented cooperation among leading centers to make more therapies available, while also improving the ability to detect the disease at an early stage. At the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, top educators from both institutions will train a new generation of leaders in the field.

“Memorial Sloan Kettering is deeply committed to New Jersey, having provided cancer care in the state for more than 20 years, and we are excited to have the opportunity to offer our expertise and resources to even more residents,” said José Baselga, M.D., Ph.D., physician-inchief and chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering. “Hackensack Meridian Health is a strong partner; our collaboration will help us continue to meet the evolving needs of patients, whether through greater access to clinical trials or more convenient options for local hospitalization and follow-up care.”

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Currently, Memorial Sloan Kettering and Hackensack Meridian Health treat one in five New Jersey residents who are diagnosed with cancer. Combined, the two organizations will serve the most cancer patients in the region, and many of their joint programs will be among the largest and most respected in the country.

The partnership will be overseen by an operating board made up of representatives from each organization. That board will function with the advice of a formal clinical council, led by internationally recognized experts in all subtypes of cancer from Memorial Sloan Kettering, the John Theurer Cancer Center, and Hackensack Meridian Health, as well as by a formal executive advisory group comprised of institutional leaders in key areas.

For Garden State residents, the relationship creates, at a minimum, instant convenience.

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“Together, we will form the largest cancer program in the region,” Dr. Pecora concluded. “It’s a unique system that will allow New Jersey residents ease of access and top-notch care. This is a very exciting development for health care.”

Hackensack Meridian Health
1 Bay Avenue, Montclair / 844.HMH.Well (844.464.9355)