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U of Minnesota and partners launch statewide clincial trials network; The Hormel Institute a part of the partnership

Minnesotans living in rural areas throughout greater Minnesota will soon have better access to new cancer treatments and enhanced care delivery, thanks to a new state-funded partnership between University of Minnesota and the state’s major health and research systems.

As part of the Minnesota Discovery Research and InnoVation (MnDRIVE) partnership with the State of Minnesota, the University is launching the Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN), with multiple locations across the state. 

“This is an innovative and important program that we are excited to be a part of,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, executive director of The Hormel Institute, in a press release. “It helps us achieve our goal which is to take answers to cancer that we’re discovering through research to benefit and help more people through innovative clinical trials. Our quest is to accelerate the process from research discoveries to care that protects and promotes health and longevity.”

Led by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, the goal of MNCCTN  is to improve cancer outcomes for all Minnesotans through greater access to cancer clinical trials in prevention, treatment, and survivorship. These trials will originate from Minnesota’s two NIC-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, the Masonic Cancer Center and Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, along with The Hormel Institute in Austin.

“This MnDRIVE initiative fuels research that addresses a pressing challenge—access to world-class cancer care for Minnesotans in every corner of our state,” said University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler. “We are grateful for the State of Minnesota’s support for the University’s work to advance innovative and quality healthcare for Minnesotans.”

Nearly half of all Minnesotans will be diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening cancer during their lifetime; but 56 percent of Minnesotans have fewer options for treatment because they live more than 30 miles from a hospital or clinic that offers access to clinical trials.

By bringing cancer clinical trials to those living in those rural areas, the MNCCTN will increase access to potentially lifesaving and life-changing therapies and treatments, strengthen healthcare systems, create more equitable access to care, and could improve cancer outcomes throughout the state.

The MNCCTN is a collaboration between the Masonic Cancer Center, Essentia Health Community Oncology Research Program, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Fairview Health System, Sanford Community Oncology Program of the North Central Plains, Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium and The Hormel Institute.

In all, there will be 15 new locations across Minnesota that will participate in MNCCTN cancer clinical trials in the first year of the program with additional sites across the state to be added in the subsequent years.

The first 18 locations across Minnesota are: Aitkin, Albert Lea, Austin, Cambridge, Deer River, Detroit Lakes, Fosston, Grand Rapids, Hastings, Hibbing, Mankato, Monticello, Park Rapids, Princeton, Thief River Falls, Virginia and Worthington. Hibbing will host two locations—one through Fairview and the other through Essentia Health.

There are plans to increase the number of locations in future years.

The MNCCTN is led by Senior Manager, Marie L. Rahne, MBA, who will lead the administrative efforts of the MNCCTN. Dr. Charles Loprinzi, a medical oncologist with Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, is the newly appointed MNCCTN medical director.

The MNCCTN team will oversee the administrative, clinical, and research aspects that are integral to the launch of a statewide cancer clinical trials network.