SPOKANE, Wash. — A research consortium intended to increase the quality of patient care in Spokane and broaden existing public-private collaboration in cancer research and treatment is being unveiled today (Nov. 2.)

V. Lane Rawlins, president, Washington State University, is joining with top officials of Empire Health Services and Providence Services of Eastern Washington to announce the creation of the Inland Northwest Cancer Research Consortium. Also at the press conference is Leland Hartwell, director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his investigation of cellular division that can lead to cancer.

The announcement will be made at the third annual Inland Northwest Cancer Conference, that will be attended by more than 200 health care professionals and researchers. Hartwell is the keynote speaker Friday morning before the press conference.

Led by WSU’s Cancer Prevention and Research Center and area health-care organizations, the conference has served to bring together researchers and practicing clinicians to hear the latest in cancer research, treatment, and prevention.

“The consortium will help us build that interaction on a daily basis, rather than just once a year,” says Gary Meadows, Dorothy O. Kennedy Distinguished Professor and director of the CPRC. “Cancer touches the lives of one out of every two or three people in the country. Researchers and clinicians absolutely must work together to develop new approaches to prevention and treatment.”

Rawlins points out, “We have strong existing partnerships in teaching, research and outreach that we can leverage even further through this partnership.” As an example he cites the productivity of WSU Spokane’s faculty. Since the establishment of the campus in 1989, they have brought more than $45 million in outside funding to Spokane, much of that for research in the health sciences.

“The goal of Washington State University in this is to enhance research in Spokane, and to advance the frontiers of knowledge. Spokane offers researchers and clinicians a regional medical center, existing models of health care collaboration, and a research university—a perfect package for tremendous success in this partnership,” Rawlins says.

Taking part in the announcement with Rawlins and Meadows are Tom Corley, CEO, Holy Family Hospital, representing Providence Services of Eastern Washington (Sacred Heart Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital and other eastern Washington health care organizations); and Tom Zellers, chief operating officer, Empire Health Services (Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center).

Goals of the consortium the partners will speak to at the announcement include plans to:

–Improve the quality of patient care by increasing access to clinical trials
–Conduct translational research, designed to bring new treatments from the research lab bench to the patient bedside
–Increase the competitiveness of Spokane hospitals in recruiting clinicians interested in conducting research in conjunction with a major university, as well as practicing in the community

Hospital representatives point out that association with the university is what will attract these “doctor scientists.” Hospitals compete to recruit health care professionals in an increasingly tight labor market with growing shortages in a variety of professions, and can benefit from any competitive edge.

“The Inland Northwest Cancer Research Consortium will be a valuable resource to serve the needs of the Spokane and regional community,” says Zellers. “We look forward to blending our expertise with those of the other consortium members in ways that would help serve the region.”

Rawlins thanks supporters who have made the partnership possible. “We are indebted to the Washington State Legislature for providing partial support for the position with the CPRC. It is with their support, in addition to the support from PSEW and EHS, that this consortium has become a reality,” he says.

The first step for the consortium is to recruit a “significant” oncology researcher, according to Meadows. The researcher will serve as the associate director of the CPRC and will be housed with Meadows in the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute building on WSU Spokane’s Riverpoint campus. “By establishing the consortium here in a regional medical center, we will put Spokane on the map in cancer research,” he says.

Press conference:
Friday, Nov. 2, 2001, 9:15 a.m.
DoubleTree Hotel Spokane/City Center
322 N. Spokane Falls Court
Shades Conference Room, 1st floor

Reporters:
–To listen to the press conference, dial 1-509-335-6338, then enter 9773# (the # sign must be entered).
–After remarks and questions from media in the room, the moderator will ask for questions from call-ins via speakerphone, and you may ask your questions at that point.
–You may fax your questions to 509-455-6285 that morning, and they will be delivered to the news conference location.

Related web sites:

Inland Northwest Cancer Conference: www.wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=554
WSU Cancer Prevention and Research Center: www.cprc.wsu.edu
Washington State University Spokane: www.spokane.wsu.edu
Empire Health Services: www.empirehealth.org
Providence Services of Eastern Washington: www.psew.org