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Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research

Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research
City of Hope’s Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurse practitioners, scientists and other health professionals. Together, they are dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and research of solid tumors in adult patients to ensure optimal outcomes across a broad spectrum of diagnoses.
The department has dedicated faculty for both its inpatient service and outpatient clinics, which are organized around cancer types. The staff also works closely with City of Hope’s surgery, radiation oncology and supportive care medicine departments to provide coordinated, comprehensive cancer care to patients and caregivers.
Additionally, the department collaborates with the Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Program and other cancer centers to develop the next generation of cancer therapies that are more effective against the disease and less toxic to the patient. Many of these therapies are being studied in clinical trials, which are open to City of Hope patients who meet the study’s criteria.
“The motto of the City of Hope is ‘We Live to Cure Cancer.’ In the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research, it's our job to implement that motto, and we mean business. 
The department has some of the finest and most skilled medical oncologists anywhere: Many are cited as ‘America’s Top Doctors’ and are recognized in numerous other publications as well. And all are dedicated to one interest only—YOUR INTEREST. 
Here at the City of Hope, you will find doctors who are highly specialized experts in their areas. More importantly, our staff have excellent communication skills and that crucial quality—empathy. Combined with our extensive portfolio of clinical trials and continual medical progress, this means our patients will get the most advanced and compassionate care available, which gives them the best opportunity to lead longer and more fulfilling lives.”
- Cy A. Stein, MD., Ph.D.
Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology

Clinical Trials

The Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research conducts and participates in numerous clinical trials with promising therapies that are not yet widely available. City of Hope patients who meet the trials’ criteria will have opportunities to enroll in these studies, giving them access to the novel cancer treatments that may become tomorrow’s standard of care.
Our searchable clinical trials database contains more information about individual trials, including study details, its eligibility criteria and its principal investigator at City of Hope.
The types of trials include:
  • Phase 0 trials: the earliest in-human trials studying how the new drug works and how it is absorbed and processed by the body.
  • Phase I trials: small studies whose primary goal is to ensure that the new drug is well-tolerated and to establish the maximum safe dose for patients.
  • Phase II trials: studies that examine the new drug’s effectiveness against the cancer and further evaluates it for safety.
  • Phase III trials: multi-site studies involving numerous patients that compare the new drug against current standard therapy to see if it improves survival and/or quality of life.
  • Phase IV trials: these studies are typically conducted after the new drug has been approved and monitor for its long-term safety and efficacy.
For information about enrolling in a clinical trial, contact our New Patient Services department at 800-826-HOPE (4673).

Professional Education Opportunities

The Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research offer multiple education opportunities for health and science professionals.
Medical Oncology and Hematology Fellowship: The Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research and the Department of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation provide a three-year fellowship training program in Medical Oncology and Hematology subspecialties for over 25 years. This fellowship is accredited by the national Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
Clinical Oncology Career Development (K-12) Training: The National Cancer Institute-supported K-12 Training Program is geared for oncologists at the assistant professor level. It is intended to provide selected trainees a research career development experience by engaging them in all phases of designing, developing, implementing and evaluating cancer clinical trials. Novel investigator-initiated clinical trials are developed from trainees' basic research projects.
Cancer Genetics Career Development Program: The Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics offers an National Institutes of Health-funded program that provides comprehensive interdisciplinary training to highly qualified physicians and doctoral level nurses who want to become program leaders in cancer genetics, cancer prevention and control research. This program includes training in the genetics of cancer, cancer risk assessment, counseling and risk management, clinical cancer control and epidemiological research.


Just as today’s cancer treatments would not be possible without prior breakthroughs, tomorrow’s therapies are reliant upon current studies and clinical trials. The Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research is instrumental in this scientific effort to develop cancer drugs that can give patients the best possible chance to survive and thrive after their diagnoses.
Working closely with City of Hope’s Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Program and other cancer centers, the multidisciplinary program includes basic, translational and clinical research and fosters collaborations among scientists and clinicians. The goal of this synergistic effort is to spark novel ideas that turn into new laboratory discoveries, which are then transformed into promising therapies for cancer patients with few (or no) other treatment options.
Highlights of Current Efforts
  • A major obstacle to successful drug treatment of brain tumors, particularly high-grade gliomas, is the blood-brain barrier, which prevents most anticancer agents from entering the central nervous system. Gliomas are also diffuse and highly infiltrative, which means no clear border exists between tumor and normal brain. Human neural stem cells hold great promise for glioma therapy due to their inherent ability to hone in on tumor cells and bypass the blood-brain barrier. This makes neural stem cells effective vehicles for drug delivery, allowing for a concentrated amount of active drug to be applied directly to tumor cells while minimizing toxicity to normal brain tissue. City of Hope is currently conducting clinical trials testing this novel approach.
Principal investigator: Jana Portnow, M.D.
  • Laboratory studies revealed that the mushroom extract, particularly from the common white button mushroom, contain phytochemicals that can inhibit cancer through several means. As a result of this research, City of Hope have conducted clinical trials studying mushrooms’ potential against breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Principal investigators: Melanie Palomares, M.D., M.S. and Przemyslaw Twardowski, M.D.
  • Liposarcoma—or cancer of the fat cells—is the second most common soft-tissue sarcoma. Protease inhibitors (currently used to treat HIV infections) may hold promise in treating this disease due to the drug’s effect on fat cells. Based on preclinical studies supporting the use of protease inhibitors on liposarcomas, City of Hope is currently conducting a clinical trial using nelfinavir against recurrent liposarcomas.
Principal investigator: Warren Chow, M.D.
  • The Cancer and Aging Research Program, which conducts studies to establish the best pattern of care for cancer patients aged 65 and older, including:
    • Developing an assessment tool that improves oncologists ability to anticipate chemotherapy toxicity
    • Examining how cancer drugs affect older patients differently, including how they are absorbed and processed, in addition to their associated side effects.
    • Predicting overall outcomes and developing interventions to improve outcomes among older patients.
Principal investigator: Arti Hurria, M.D.
  • The California Cancer Consortium program, a National Cancer Institute-funded collaboration combining the expertise of City of Hope, University of Southern California and University of California, Davis. Together, researchers and clinicians in this program are investigating:
    • Agents that can target cancer and disrupt its life and division cycles
    • Special populations who react differently to cancer drugs due to factors such as genetics, cancer subtype or abnormal organ function.
    • The biological mechanisms behind drug response and resistance.
Principal investigators: Edward Newman, Ph.D., and Robert Morgan, M.D.

Medical Oncology Team

Support the Medical Oncology Program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients.  City of Hope was founded by individuals’ philanthropic efforts 100 years ago. Their efforts — and those of our supporters today — have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables City of Hope to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies, ultimately helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact our Donor Relations Department at 800-667-5310 or developmentrelations@coh.org. Or, to make a gift that supports all the research at City of Hope, donate online now.
We thank you for your support.
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For the 11th year, U.S.News & World Report has named City of Hope one of the top cancer hospitals in the country.
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