Sarah Cannon - November 13, 2014

It started with an ambitious and, at the time unheard-of, plan: to make clinical trials accessible to the community without the support of an academic institution. The commitment of John D. Hainsworth, MD, F. Anthony Greco, MD, and Howard A. ÒSkipÓ Burris, III, MD, have resulted in more than 1,600 clinical trials, including more than 150 first-in-man Phase I trials. Sarah Cannon Research Institute has also been a clinical trial leader in approximately 80% of approved cancer therapies in the last three years.

In 1993, Tennessee Oncology researchers Dr. Hainsworth and Dr. Greco, both academic physicians, decided to focus their time and energies on starting a clinical research program in the community. This would enable them to reach more patients and give them the benefits from the new drug.

By the end of the first year, more than 350 patients were enrolled in clinical trials. Two years later, it expanded into a national network, opening trials to other physicians, which led to the next major initiative: establishing a Phase I program in the community setting.

At the time, all Phase I programs were done at academic-based institutions. Dr. Skip Burris joined the team in 1997 to start a community-based Phase I program, one of the largest programs of its kind in the world. To patients, this meant they no longer had to leave their homes and travel to unfamiliar places to participate in trials, which could pose a financial and physical hardship for them and their families. Instead, they can stay close to home, be with their loved ones and still receive innovative treatment.

As the program grew, Sarah Cannon Research Institute was formed in 2004, to expand the clinical efforts and continue the passionate mission of advancing therapies for patients. Now, Sarah Cannon Research Institute enrolls more than 2,000 patients per year on clinical trials. But while the numbers are impressive, the Sarah Cannon story is really one of innovations and achievements: pioneering a community-based model that provides a greater population of patients access to cutting-edge therapies, offering Phase I trials outside the academic setting and being the largest community-based cancer program in the country.

Thanks to the vision and dedication of Sarah Cannon Research InstituteÕs pioneering researchersÑDrs. Greco, Hainsworth and Burris, a wide variety of innovative cancer treatment options are available to patients in their local communities through community-based clinical trials and a full continuum of coordinated care through Sarah Cannon, HCAÕs global cancer enterprise.