Director's Message

Portrait of Stan Gerson
David Schwartz Photography

The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC), the remarkable powerhouse consortium of Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic, represents all cancer research and most of the cancer care in Northeast Ohio. Our membership includes 400 cancer investigators and over 6,000 cancer healthcare professionals. We support the lives of 15,000 new cancer cases each year, or about 70% of the cases that occur among the four million individuals in the region.

The Case CCC catchment area includes 15 counties in Northeast Ohio and we seek to understand and address the challenges across the diverse communities we serve. We care for traditionally underserved populations, which include African Americans in Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown, the rural areas of Ashtabula County and the Amish in Geauga County. Poverty is a major concern and a daily reality for many in these communities, linked to elevated levels of chronic stress, tobacco use and obesity. We continue to develop strategies to address these significant challenges and their impact on cancer risk.

Access to our medical centers or regional sites for prevention services is another barrier. We are proud of our strong support across the community at large and the high degree of patient satisfaction for our medical care. Yet, we are also keenly aware that for some there is a low level of trust in our healthcare systems for biomedical research. This is particularly evident among our under-resourced and underserved communities, as identified during our recent Cleveland-focused community listening tour.

We practice and study ways to rebuild trust, facilitate access and increase understanding to improve health across our communities.

All our research programs pursue a better scientific understanding of these community needs. Communities across the country face parallel challenges - the solutions we implement at a local level will translate into national impact and benefit.

Our scientists pursue discoveries that lead to innovative prevention strategies, early detection, therapeutic development and novel clinical trials. Our researchers are using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to inform decisions and improve prognostic accuracy and for understanding the genomics of cancer. Our cell therapy research continues its decades-long “first in human” innovation using novel products forcancer treatment and prevention of infection, including HIV. Our investigators are discovering new cancer pathways and developing targeted therapies to block these paths and prevent cancer progression. We develop new drugs for cancer patients.

Our population scientists focus on cancer risk and improved early detection. Our researchers collected data on the smoking prevalence among youth leading to Tobacco 21 legislation in Cleveland in 2016 and Ohio in 2019. Current studies assess the impact and use of flavored vaping products for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Throughout the community, we have implemented new genomic tests for detection for colon and esophageal cancer, and prognostic imaging for prostate, brain and breast cancers and image-based predictions for immunotherapy efficacy in lung cancer. We are building sequencing capabilities to help families understand their genetic risk of cancer.

Finally, our discoveries on the genetic causes of cancer are uncovering mutations and epigenetic changes that drive the onset and spread of colon, esophageal, brain, breast, oropharyngeal, ovarian and prostate cancers, the progression of acute leukemias and osteogenic sarcomas, and are linking these genetic changes to new therapeutic options or patients. Through these efforts, we achieve our mission: To apply scientific discoveries in human cancers and risk factors for cancer across our communities to improve cancer prevention, detection, treatment, cure, and survivorship.

Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
slg5@case.edu