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SEATTLE – (Aug. 6, 2014) – Virginia Mason and MultiCare Health System, based in Tacoma, have partnered to create the Northwest NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NW NCORP) and received a $4.2 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The grant will fund initiatives designed to accelerate and expand local access to cancer clinical trials for patients of all ages in Washington, Idaho and Alaska; develop interactive clinical databases to maximize cancer care and research opportunities; and develop a high-functioning, multiple-site cancer research program through a collaboration with like-minded, community-based organizations across the three-state region.

Oncologist Craig Nichols, MD, of the Virginia Mason Cancer Institute, and MultiCare oncologist Jack Keech, DO, lead the consortium and will provide oversight of cancer clinical trials and cancer care delivery research. They have assembled a multidisciplinary team of oncologists, primary care providers, geneticists and other specialists to ensure project goals are met.

“Forming this partnership with Virginia Mason allows both organizations to leverage each other’s considerable expertise in cancer care and expand our capacity to offer local access to cancer research trials,” said Dr. Keech. “This has great potential to increase opportunities for research in our communities, and — more importantly — to ultimately improve the care we provide our patients.”  

Over the past 30 years, NCI has separately funded oncology clinical trials involving more than 8,500 patients at MultiCare and Virginia Mason. By creating NW NCORP, the organizations will work together to advance cancer research and benefit a larger number of cancer patients.

“The Northwest NCI Community Oncology Research Program represents the commitment and synergy of two highly experienced organizations,” Dr. Nichols said. “This experience will be paramount to the success of our partnership as we quickly focus on cancer care delivery and health disparities through research that is coordinated and comprehensive.”

The overall goal of the National Cancer Institute NCORP program is to ensure cancer clinical trials, as well as cancer delivery research, is available in cancer patients’ home communities as well as in metropolitan centers. This focus on community-based programs is expected to generate a broadly applicable evidence base that contributes to improved patient outcomes and hastens the transfer of knowledge from research into clinical practice.

More than 37,000 Washington residents are diagnosed with cancer annually, according to the National Cancer Institute. The disease is the leading cause of death in the state, accounting for about 24 percent of all deaths statewide.

About Virginia Mason
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety.

To learn more about Virginia Mason, please visit or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter. To learn how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509

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