We cannot have one without the other.
The Phase I Clinical Trials Unit at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University opened in 2009, a time when a significant expansion of clinical trial efforts was underway to support the National Cancer Institute cancer center designation. Over this rapid five-year period, a truly collaborative culture has led to a cutting-edge, early drug development program at a nationally recognized, top 25 cancer center.
None of this has been possible without patients putting their trust in our physicians, nurses, scientists, and many others, to deliver optimal care while asking critical questions about novel drugs and approaches. When I think about the impact of our Phase I unit on patients and their families, I recall a recent conversation with a seasoned oncologist here at Emory. He said, “Donald, if I saw anyone in the chairs here at a store, I wouldn’t know they had cancer.” A simple statement, but one that conveys a number of key messages about how our phase I trials have evolved over five years. Drugs we now have at hand, as a whole, are much safer and better tolerated than conventional chemotherapy. We also have access to more agents with much better activity against cancer, leading to more treatment options.
With improved treatment comes a sense of satisfaction. However, we cannot over-emphasize the critical effect patients have on us as health care providers, researchers, and human beings. As a clinician-researcher, the greatest motivating factor I have is seeing patients do well on trials and coming to visits to talk about trips, family gatherings, important personal events, and the role that treatment on a trial had in helping them live their lives.
For this, we say thank you to our patients and their families for their trust and the courage they show on a daily basis. You keep up your fight, and we will keep up ours.
About Dr. Harvey
R. Donald Harvey, PharmD, FCCP BCOP is director of the Winship Cancer Institute’s Phase I Clinical Trials section, and Associate Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and a board certified oncology pharmacist. Widely published in peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Harvey’s research interests include the clinical application of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenomic data to patient care.