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Markey Launches New Research Network, Expanding Collaboration in Clinical Cancer Research Studies

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 2, 2015) – The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center has announced that St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center in Huntington, W.Va., is the first member of the Markey Cancer Center Research Network, a newly launched initiative conducting high priority cancer research through a network of collaborative centers with expertise in the delivery of cancer care and conduct of research studies.

Thousands of patients across Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia will have close-to-home access to innovative clinical research studies in the treatment and epidemiology of cancer as well as research studies in the prevention and early detection of cancer.

The team at St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center were invited to participate based on their previous experience in conducting oncology research. Dr. Arvinder Bir, medical director of St. Mary's Regional Cancer Center, noted that joining the Markey Research Network would be hugely beneficial to both patients and physicians.

“As medical director of St. Mary's Regional Cancer Center, I am very excited and am truly looking forward to our new collaboration with Markey Cancer Center, which will greatly benefit our patients from the Tri-State area by allowing them access to cutting edge technology and giving them the ability to enroll in clinical research studies here locally," Bir said. "It will also be more economical for our patients as it will save them travel time, providing a better quality of life while undergoing treatment. Additionally, our physicians will be able to discuss complex cases for better patient care and our healthcare providers will have the most current information through access to Markey’s library, educational events and activities.”

Clinical research studies are key to developing new methods to prevent, detect and treat cancer, and most treatments used today are the results of previous clinical studies.  These may include studies in which patients who need cancer treatment receive their therapy under the observation of specially trained cancer doctors and staff. Patients who volunteer for cancer treatment studies will either receive standard therapy or a new treatment that represents the researchers’ best new ideas for how to improve cancer care.

In addition to offering access to Markey investigator-initiated clinical research studies, St. Mary's membership in the Markey Research Network means the cancer center will also offer patients access to national cancer studies available from the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network Groups.  The Markey Cancer Center became the 68th NCI-designated cancer center in the country –the only NCI-designated center in Kentucky and the closest to Huntington – in July 2013.

The portfolio of available clinical research studies for each Markey Research Network member will be targeted, focusing both on the areas with the highest burden of disease, and the types of cancers that most affect these overburdened regions. Appalachia has some of the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the country, especially for lung, colorectal, and cervical cancers.

As a member of the Markey Research Network, the physicians at St. Mary's Regional Cancer Center will offer the opportunity to consider participation in clinical research studies to their patients, with the patients remaining under their direct care and closer to home during their treatment.

"Being able to offer not only our own trials on site, but also major NCI trials, is a huge benefit to the members of our Research Network," said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. "The patients who chose to enroll in one of these trials at St. Mary's should be assured that they are receiving the latest, best treatment options for their disease, with the added benefit of staying much closer to their own support system at home."

By disseminating Markey's clinical research studies across the region, the collaborative Research Network will offer better, more progressive treatment options to patients without the burden of traveling away from home and their physicians. 

"Clinical research is the best way to advance cancer treatment protocols and move forward with the most effective new therapies," said Dr. Tim Mullett, medical director of the Markey Cancer Center Research Network. "As an NCI-designated cancer center not just serving all of Kentucky, but regions of Appalachia including West Virginia, we have an obligation to address the most devastating cancers in this area by continually improving cancer prevention, detection, and treatments. The Markey Research Network will play a vital role in improving the grim cancer mortality rates in our region."  

St. Mary's Regional Cancer Center is the first member of the burgeoning Markey Research Network, with new medical centers to be added in the coming months. To be invited into the Research Network, medical centers must demonstrate a capacity to deliver the highest caliber of clinical expertise and demonstrate qualify work in clinical research and complying with federal regulations.



St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center has been on the front lines of the battle with cancer since 1965. The cancer center provides a full range of radiation, medical and surgical oncology services and is home to the only CyberKnife® Radiosurgery System in the Tri-State and the state of West Virginia.

St. Mary’s is designated as a Comprehensive Teaching Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons and the Commission on Cancer. The Radiation Oncology Department is accredited by the American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO) and the American College of Radiology (ACR), which both strive to ensure the highest quality care for radiation therapy patients.


The Markey Cancer Center was founded in 1983 and is a dedicated matrix cancer center established as an integral part of the University of Kentucky and the UK HealthCare enterprise. Markey functions as a multi-faceted, multidisciplinary complex whose mission is to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality through a comprehensive program of cancer education, research, treatment and community engagement. 

In July 2013, Markey was designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to receive research funding and many other opportunities available only to the nation’s best cancer centers. Markey is the only NCI-designated center in Kentucky and one of only 68 in the country.

The clinical programs and services of the Markey Cancer Center are integrated with the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Markey's cancer specialty teams work together with UK Chandler Hospital departments and divisions to provide primary patient care and support services as well as advanced specialty care with applicable clinical research studies. All diagnostic services, clinical and pathology laboratories, operating rooms, emergent and intensive care, and radiation therapy services are also provided to cancer patients through UK Chandler Hospital. Attending Physicians affiliated with the Center are board certified in their respective oncologic specialties, and its research scientists are generously funded by nationally prominent funding agencies, including the National Cancer Institute.

MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or