Posts

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.

Even as a child, Rachel Miller knew she wanted to be a doctor

Making the RoundsWe’re joined by Dr. Rachel Miller for our latest edition of Making the Rounds. Dr. Miller is a gynecologic oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center who specializes in ovarian cancer screening and treatment. She’s also the co-director of Markey’s new Molecular Tumor Board, a powerful tool in the fight against cancer.

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

I think I knew in elementary school. I was very interested in doctoring from an early age. My mom actually saved my Fisher-Price doctor kit and cleaned it up and gave it to my son. So it is well-worn. I did a lot of physical exams when I was between the ages of 4 and 6, I think.

I was a chemistry major, and I thought I might spend some time in the lab. And I was interested in pharmacy, too. So it’s been a long-standing desire. [The challenge] was just trying to figure out what aspect of healthcare and medicine and interaction with people would work best.

What’s your favorite food?

Spaghetti and meatballs. It’s comfort food, and actually, it’s one of the first dishes that my husband made for me when we were dating. It was a birthday dish.

How would your friends describe you?

I think they’d describe me as energetic, active. Kind of crazy in that I may have a little higher work-to-off-time ratio than most of my friends, but we make the most of our time together.

Describe your ideal weekend.

I’d get out of work at a reasonable time on Friday and probably have some Mexican or Indian food or sushi for dinner – some sort of special treat for Friday night. And then on Saturday, I’d wake up – I have a 3 1/2-year-old – so I’d wake up with him in a really good mood and we’d play and have a nice, quiet breakfast. I’d go out for a run, and then we’d have an afternoon of maybe swimming in the summertime or the YMCA in the wintertime. We’d get a babysitter at 6 p.m., and I’d have an evening with my husband. Really, it’d be a quiet weekend at home. I feel like more and more we treasure the downtime and the routine family time at home.

What’s your favorite part about being a mom?

There are so many great parts about it. I think it’s just that my son challenges me in ways that I didn’t realize a 3 1/2-year-old could challenge me. I thought I had a hard job until I became a mom, and I realized that is so much more difficult at times. I just enjoy watching him grow and seeing how every day is just loaded with new experiences for him and how he approaches those experiences, watching him learn language, hearing him laugh – just the day-to-day interactions.


Watch our video interview with Dr. Miller below, where she describes the types of patients she sees at Markey and talks about why she enjoys practicing medicine in Kentucky.


Next steps:

Watch: Dr. Rachel Miller discusses the HPV vaccine, cervical cancer prevention

We sat down with Dr. Rachel Miller, a gynecologic oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center, to discuss the HPV vaccine and why it’s so important in preventing cervical cancer. HPV, or the human papillomavirus, causes almost all cases of cervical cancer, but the vaccine can protect young men and women against the disease.

Watch our interview with Dr. Miller to learn more about the HPV vaccine and why she recommends it.


Next steps: