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UK Precision Medicine Clinic

Bringing precision medicine to our patients with cancer

Jill Kolesar, PharmD

Written by Jill Kolesar, PharmD, a professor in the UK College of Pharmacy, co-director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Molecular Tumor Board and director of Markey’s Precision Medicine Clinic.

Historically, cancer treatment has been offered through one-size-fits-all therapies based on the average person.

But that is changing as we learn more about cancer and why it occurs. Scientists and doctors – including those at the Markey Cancer Center and UK HealthCare – are increasingly using an exciting new treatment option called precision medicine.

Precision medicine a kind of treatment that takes into account each patient’s individual genetics, environment and lifestyle to find a tailored therapy that works for their specific cancer.

Recently, we launched our very own Precision Medicine Clinic at UK, the first of its kind in Kentucky. Our team at the Precision Medicine Clinic specializes in finding personalized treatment options that will be most effective for our patients.

What is the Precision Medicine Clinic?

Because precision medicine is a relatively new approach to treating cancer, many of the therapies are still being studied in early-phase clinical trials.

The Precision Medicine Clinic is a dedicated treatment center for patients with cancer who are enrolled in or eligible for early-phase precision medicine clinical trials. The clinic provides a space for patients to receive clinical trial treatments, with staff highly experienced in precision medicine and clinical trials.

What does the Precision Medicine Clinic offer?

As part of Markey, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Kentucky, the clinic provides access to early-phase precision medicine clinical trials. Through these trials, we offer many cancer treatment services, including:

  • Infusion therapy, treatment delivered intravenously (IV).
  • Targeted therapy, treatment that works based on a patient’s genetics.
  • Immunotherapy, treatment that works with a patient’s immune system.
  • Oral cancer therapies, treatment patients can take by mouth at home, making treatment more convenient and accessible.

The clinic is also connected with Markey’s Molecular Tumor Board. This multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians meets regularly to discuss specific cases and use the members’ shared expertise to find treatment options for patients with cancer.

Who works in the Precision Medicine Clinic?

Our clinic is fully staffed with experts in the field of precision medicine and clinical trials:

  • Precision medicine nurses specialize in administering infusion, or IV, treatments to patients, ensure patients are comfortable, and address any unexpected complications during the infusion.
  • Clinical research nurses work with patients to find the best-fit clinical trial for their specific cancer and health conditions.
  • Precision medicine pharmacists are experts in ensuring investigational and standard-of-care therapies fit with each patient’s other medications and conditions, preventing adverse effects, and in educating patients on how to take their medications.
  • Clinical service technicians work with patients, physicians and pharmacists to ensure all treatments run smoothly and effectively.
  • Medical oncologists and hematologists from a variety of specialties provide their expertise for each patient and their individualized treatment.

How can you contact the Precision Medicine Clinic?

If you or someone you know could benefit from the Precision Medicine Clinic, please contact us at 859-323-7750.


Watch a video interview with Dr. Kolesar, where she tells us more about the Precision Medicine Clinic and how cancer patients can benefit from its services.


Next steps:

  • Get to know Dr. Kolesar and find out why she is so passionate about cancer research.
  • Markey is Kentucky’s only NCI-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.
Precision Medicine Clinic

New Markey clinic gives patients access to latest cancer treatments

In its ongoing efforts to offer Kentuckians the latest, most innovative cancer treatments available, the UK Markey Cancer Center recently launched the Precision Medicine Clinic, a new space dedicated to providing patients with increased access to Phase I and Phase II clinical trials.

Before a new drug can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for widespread use, it must first be proven safe and effective in clinical trials. When patients are enrolled in Phase I trials, they are often among the first people to receive a promising new drug or treatment. Phase II trials build on the information gathered in a Phase I trial and often compare its efficacy with the current standard treatment for that specific cancer.

Many of the early-phase clinical trials offered at the Precision Medicine Clinic will be investigator-initiated trials from Markey physician-scientists, as well as national clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and Early Therapeutic Clinical Trials Network. Leading-edge trials like these are not usually available to patients treated outside an NCI-designated cancer center such as Markey.

Understanding cancer in Kentucky

Markey’s Molecular Tumor Board, which launched in November 2016, is providing ongoing guidance for the types of clinical trials the Precision Medicine Clinic will facilitate. As the tumor board members learn more about the types of mutations causing cancer in here in Kentucky and the region, new trials can be designed to target those specific mutations.

“Cancer treatment has traditionally been based on tumor types, but with more data obtained from genetic analyses, we are using that information to target specific mutations,” said Markey Director Dr. Mark Evers. “The more data we gather through the Molecular Tumor Board, the more precise therapies we’ll be able to offer through clinical trials at the Precision Medicine Clinic.”

A team of research experts

The Precision Medicine Clinic is directed by clinical pharmacologist Jill Kolesar, PharmD, a professor in the UK College of Pharmacy and a nationally known expert in oncology pharmacogenomics, alongside medical oncologist Dr. Susanne Arnold and surgical oncologist Dr. Rachel Miller. All have extensive experience in clinical trial implementation.

Additionally, the clinic employs a staff of multidisciplinary experts who have a high level of experience with research, including chemotherapy nurses, pharmacists, and research nurses. Cancer patients who are enrolled in early-phase clinical trials will receive much of their care in this new space.

Located on the second floor of UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital Pavilion H, the Precision Medicine Clinic includes two exam rooms and four infusion chairs. Kolesar anticipates the clinic will see up to six patients a day and about 300 new patients each year.

Helping patients across the Commonwealth

The clinic will receive many internal referrals from UK HealthCare physicians, but community physicians from across the Commonwealth will also be able to refer patients to Markey for these unique trials and treatment options.

“The Precision Medicine Clinic provides trials that aren’t available anywhere else in Kentucky,” Kolesar said. “It truly benefits the entire state by providing access to the newest cancer treatments. Referring community physicians will be able to keep their patients here in Kentucky instead of sending them to other facilities far from home.”


Next steps:

  • Get to know Dr. Kolesar and find out why she is so passionate about cancer research.
  • Markey is Kentucky’s only NCI-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.

Cancer is her fight, precision medicine is her weapon

Making the RoundsIn our latest Making the Rounds conversation, we had a chance to chat with Jill Kolesar, PharmD, a professor in the UK College of Pharmacy, co-director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Molecular Tumor Board and director of Markey’s Precision Medicine Clinic.

Dr. Kolesar came to UK HealthCare last year from the University of Wisconsin. Her research is focused on precision medicine, the field of finding new drugs to treat specific cancer mutations. 

Tell us about your precision medicine research.

Precision medicine is a type of treatment that targets a specific genetic mutation in a tumor. Clinical trials have shown that, if you have one of these mutations, not only will the precision medicine work better, but you’ll have fewer side effects. There’s no question that they’re better. Unfortunately, not everyone has a mutation that we have a drug for, but that’s really what we’re working on with our research.

My research is focused on finding new drugs. We look at particular mutations and then use different drugs to target those mutations to determine what the most effective therapy is.

What is the Molecular Tumor Board?

The Molecular Tumor Board brings these precision medicine options to patients and their doctors. The board is made up of doctors, pharmacists and scientists who are experts in genetic sequencing and the treatment of cancer. These people come together to look at each patient’s genetic report and make a treatment recommendation specific to that person.

It’s a real benefit to the patients of Kentucky and their physicians. The treating physician usually knows the patient much better, but the Molecular Tumor Board usually knows the genetics and the new treatments much better. It’s really a partnership between the physician, the patient and the Molecular Tumor Board.

What types of patients benefit most from the Molecular Tumor Board?

The types of patients that are candidates for the Molecular Tumor Board are patients with rare tumors, as well as patients who haven’t responded to standard therapies. And actually, patients with lung cancer can be seen by the tumor board after their initial diagnosis.

Why did you decide to pursue research?

When I was a junior in college, I saw a TV program on PBS about tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (white blood cells) and how they could be taken out of a patient and activated and then given back to make a positive impact.

And so that was the day I decided I was going into cancer research. I’ve never looked back and I’ve always been happy with that decision.

What do you do in spare time?

I like to garden, I like to travel, I like to cook – and I enjoy good food.


Check out our video interview with Dr. Kolesar, where she talks more about the benefits of the Molecular Tumor Board.


Next steps:

  • Watch our TV spot that features the work of our Molecular Tumor Board.
  • Markey is Kentucky’s only NCI-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.