In 2003, Singing River Hospital System (SRHS) was awarded a 5-year NIH grant which allowed SRHS to build infrastructure and establish a clinical research program aimed at reducing barriers to clinical research for minorities and the underserved. This project will continue the efforts begun with that grant. SRHS will maintain partnerships with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. These collaborations provide access to NCI sponsored clinical research trials to cancer patients receiving care at SRHS. The clinical research opportunities available for the cancer patients include prevention studies and treatment trials for common cancers such as breast, lung, prostate and colorectal. SRHS also offers trials for patients facing treatment challenges such as late stage diagnosis, recurrent cancers and those with limited treatment options. More than 76 clinical trials have been opened at SRHS with more than 102 patients accrued to studies during the CDRP grant. NCI funding also provides our hospital system the opportunity to offer our patients services such as transportation, social services and educational programming. These services are benefiting the Singing River Hospital System patients as well as the community at large and national health care. The RCC medical staff provided availability of clinical research at the community level making it integral to the mission of the cancer center. Grant investigators and staff recognize the importance of clinical research and are taking steps to ensure the sustainability of the research office. During this project SRHS will strengthen its clinical research activities while lessening its need for government funding. There are five sustainability options fully detailed in the research plan. They are: 1) Development of the Coastal Research Consortium;2) Internal Funding;3) Expansion of clinical research to a system-wide department;4) Collaboration with UMMC as a community clinical affiliate;and 5) pursue CCOP/MB-CCOP funding with other CDRP sites.
Clinical research is essential to improving healthcare for the public. Our project brings clinical trials to a local hospital setting allowing patients who would not normally have access to cutting-edge medicine the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. As one SRHS clinical trial patient said, lt was convenient for me to use this cancer center but when I found out about the clinical trials, it made me want to stay here even longer.