As reported by the New Britain Herald, November 1, 2005.

City Hospital Joins Cancer Study Group

By Scott Whipple

NEW BRITAIN -- New Britain General Hospital has joined Hartford Hospital and the University of Connecticut Health Center to form the Central Connecticut Cancer Consortium.

Working together with Hartford Hospital and the UConn Health Center, New Britain General’s division of gynecologic oncology has been designated as a major research center for the study of gynecologic cancers. The Gynecologic Oncology Group, a division of the National Cancer Institute, made the designation.

Principal investigator for the consortium is Dr. James Hoffman, New Britain General’s director of the division of gynecologic oncology. The co-principal investigator is Dr. Stacy Nerenstone of Hartford Hospital.

A consortium offers a number of benefits.

"This designation by the GOG means that our consortium is now recognized as a separate research group, which has great implications for gynecologic cancer research in Central Connecticut," said Hoffman. "Our patients will no longer have to travel to Boston or New York to try novel drugs and treatments."

Hoffman said experts from all three hospitals will, in effect, be "in the same room. This will bring about collaboration and sharing of ideas, which will benefit our patients."

In addition, research protocols already approved at New Britain General can be made available to other hospitals.

The increased funding that comes with this designation will allow a larger number of representatives from each hospital to take part in national research efforts.

The consortium is one of 60 sanctioned national research groups that work cooperatively, testing new programs, treatments and drugs for gynecologic cancer.

"This has been, over the decades, the most productive format in the world to research the best ways to treat these cancers," Hoffman said. "These studies have been the main source of progress."

Hoffman believes the consortium can be a big success for women’s cancer research.

"All of us, in what is now this consortium, have been working together to make these innovative and scientific advances for women," he said.

Together, the hospitals have been designated as a "parent" organization by the Gynecology Oncology Group.

"It’s an honor and recognition that we’re now at a stage where we’re a parent organization."

Hoffman explained that it will now be easier for Hartford County women to take part in clinical trials, even if their doctor is not at New Britain General.

"The patient who wants to take part in an NCI study will have better access," he said. "A woman whose doctor is at Hartford Hospital or UConn won’t have to leave her doctor to participate. The position of our consortium as a GOG parent group will allow innovative university researchers to participate in national discussions about future scientific proposals."

Hoffman said this designation brings with it "wonderful teaching opportunities," for physician residents and nurses at New Britain General and the other participating hospitals.

Maureen Bracco, is currently the oncology research nurse coordinator at New Britain General. She will become the nurse coordinator for the regional GOG program, screening all patients for research at the three hospitals. There are currently 35 open trials.

"These studies offer new hope for women with ovarian, endometrial, cervical, and vulvar cancer," Bracco said.

In addition to Hoffman and Nerenstone, other investigators in the consortium are Drs. Peter Byeff, Barbara Fallon, Stephen Grund and Kenneth Smith at New Britain General; Drs. John Currie, Patricia DeFusco, and Joel Sorosky at Hartford Hospital; and Drs. John Nash and Carolyn Runowicz at the UConn Health Center.

For more information about oncology research through the consortium and New Britain General Hospital, call Bracco at (860) 224-5900, Ext. 6960.