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Instituto de Cancerología – Clinica las Américas Signs Sister Institution Agreement with MD Anderson Cancer Center

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Instituto de Cancerología – Clinica las Américas (IDC) will sign a Sister Institution Agreement today, Oct. 27, 2011, in Medellin, Colombia, home to IDC’s main campus. Oliver Bogler, Ph.D., vice president of Global Academic Programs at MD Anderson, Rodolfo Gomez, M.D., chief of IDC’s Board of Directors and Eduardo Vargas, IDC’s CEO, will sign the newest agreement bringing together two institutions with an already productive relationship.

“Being a Sister Institution is important to IDC, Medellin, the state of Antioquia and Colombia,” said Alejandro Yepes, CFO of IDC. “We are proud to create this relationship and hope to make great strides in clinical research and training between our two institutions.”

Three IDC physicians already engage in partnerships with colleagues at MD Anderson. Rene Pareja, M.D., who was an observer at MD Anderson in 2008 in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, works with Pedro Ramirez, M.D., professor and Kathleen Schmeler, M.D., associate professor, both of whom Pareja met during his observership and who brought IDC to the attention of MD Anderson’s Global Academic Programs (GAP). GAP manages the development and implementation of Sister Institution relationships and quickly identified IDC as a possible partner. Pareja, Ramirez and Schmeler’s surgical research promises to provide improved outcomes for women with cervical cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death from cancer in women in Colombia. This cooperative work has also led to opportunities for fellows from MD Anderson to attend a rotation at IDC where they are exposed to advanced cases of cervical cancer they would likely not see here in the U.S.

Native Colombian Ana Gonzalez-Angulo, M.D., associate professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Breast Medical Oncology, works with Gomez, who, in addition to being the chief of IDC’s Board of Directors, is a clinical oncologist on a project involving chemotherapy resistance. Gonzalez-Angulo advocated the relationship with IDC. Also, Amado Karduss, M.D., of IDC and Marcos de Lima, M.D., professor in the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation at MD Anderson, work cooperatively on two separate projects; one involving hematopoietic stem cell transplants for unmatched donors and one evaluating differences in the TPMT gene in children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

In addition to the current projects, other MD Anderson faculty look to the SI agreement as a platform to engage in additional cooperative research. Those faculty members include: Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D., chair in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology, Michael Frumovitz, M.D., also an associate professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, Cesar Nunez, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Pediatrics and Valerae Lewis, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic Oncology.

IDC is the largest cancer center in Colombia and has three separate campuses to assist patients in Medellin and the surrounding area. In 2010 more than 6,000 new patients entered IDC to address multiple types of cancers, including the most prevalent in Colombia: breast, prostate, cervix and thyroid. IDC has been treating patients for 20 years, playing an important role in creating a network across Latin America to combat cancer.

“A Sister Institution relationship with IDC provides access to cancers not often seen in Houston, as well as dedicated physicians and researchers with whom we can work in our common fight against cancer,” explains Bogler. “IDC will strengthen our Latin American network of SI’s and better enable us to address the burden of cancer across the region through cooperative research, educational exchange and clinical trials.” 10/27/2011

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