Pier Paolo Scaglioni, MD, Professor and Herbert F. Koch Endowed Chair in the Division of Hematology Oncology, came to the UC College of Medicine on a mission to help the Cincinnati Cancer Center receive National Cancer Institute designation. The Cincinnati Cancer Center is a partnership between the UC College of Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and UC Health.
“It’s very important to me to build integrated scientific programs between the UC College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children's, so we make a pipeline from the basic discoveries to, eventually, the patients,” said Scaglioni.
Scaglioni’s responsibilities include increasing the department’s research efforts. He’s adding more scientists, cancer biologists and physician scientists to his team to boost the college’s focus on cancer research.
Much of Scaglioni’s own research efforts focus on how specific genes can be manipulated to stunt cancer cell growth and on running clinical trials for new cancer drugs. Scaglioni hopes to bring innovative trials to Cincinnati soon, in particular a phase I clinical trial looking at a drug that interferes with how cancer cells metabolize fat for growth.
“By understanding how the cancer cells work, we get the advantage of picking and choosing what we think are the more exciting drugs,” said Scaglioni. “At UC, we have the infrastructure to give patients new drugs for the very first time (in a phase I trial) or to optimize the use of promising cancer drugs that have already passed the first phases of clinical testing (in a phase II trial).”
Scaglioni hopes to bring more clinical trials to the university, increasing treatment options available to patients across the region. Receiving NCI designation will help achieve that goal.
“We are here for the community. We’re geared toward generating new knowledge regarding how the cancer cell operates—figuring out the cancer Achilles’ heel in order to obtain discoveries that will bring new drugs to patients,” said Scaglioni. “This can only be done in academic medical centers. It cannot be done in a community hospital or in a private practice, just because they are not geared to do clinical investigation.”
Scaglioni’s dedication to research and improving cancer care for patients makes him a perfect fit for his new roles.
“We apply standard of care, but when you are in an academic medical center, your intent is actually to make the discoveries that will lead to the next standard."