Behind the scenes of life-saving treatments and research innovations impacting cancer outlooks for patients at the UC Cancer Institute, there’s a power duo of clinical and research leaders that guide the institute’s range of cancer-fighting efforts: Bill Barrett, MD, and Tom Herzog, MD. Barrett, Director of the UC Cancer Institute and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology, and Herzog, Deputy Director of the UC Cancer Institute and Professor of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, are leading the charge to improve cancer care in Cincinnati.
“I wear a lot of hats. I'm a clinician. I'm an administrator. I'm a teacher. And I also conduct research,” said Herzog. “It's a lot of different roles, but they all come together with the patient at the center. In some cases, I'm helping one patient at a time. In other cases, hopefully I'm helping hundreds of thousands of patients in the future.”
Through patient care, teaching, research and clinical trials, Barrett and Herzog touch every area of the university’s cancer-fighting efforts. But Barrett and Herzog aren’t just focused on their own patients—they want to improve cancer care for everyone in Cincinnati.
“Our goal is to raise the level of cancer care throughout the whole region. We truly try to emphasize that the competition, the adversary if you will, is not each other; it is cancer,” said Barrett. “We want people to have a great outcome for wherever they’re treated in this community, and if we can somehow contribute by making a recommendation or by reassuring people, all the better. And as an academic medical center, we’re available for particularly complex problems. We have a very vested interest in all the people that we see, and we want the very best for them and their families.”
To raise the standard of cancer care, Barrett and Herzog continue their personal research and support other cancer researchers at UC.
“We want to be able to offer the newest and best technologies and clinical trials, so that we not only provide the best individual care, but we further the field and further the science at the same time,” said Herzog.
Herzog is closely involved with the UC Cancer Institute’s clinical trials office as the Chair of the Protocol Review Monitoring Committee and Chair of the Data Safety Monitoring Board. He argues that clinical trials are the central engine for acquiring knowledge in medicine, especially cancer.
Barrett and Herzog’s efforts to improve cancer care extend further into the community beyond their research and clinical efforts.
“Within the Cancer Institute we have over 100 events a year, which are largely educational events, and the idea is to help make Cincinnati the smartest city in the world when it comes to cancer,” said Barrett. “We’re doing that by helping our citizens in the city be knowledgeable about preventative measures they can take to avoid developing cancer, screening recommendations so the cancer is diagnosed early, and treatment options so people know what their options are.”
The next step in Barrett and Herzog’s multifaceted approach to improving cancer care in the region is to help the Cincinnati Cancer Center, a partnership between UC, UC Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, apply for National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. They hope that receiving NCI designation will help improve patient outcomes, boost research resources and aid in recruitment efforts.
“Nobody wants a cancer diagnosis, but if you have to face this adversary, we want Cincinnati to be the very best place in the world to be,” said Barrett.