News Release 

Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center earns National Cancer Institute renewal

The cancer center at Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian will receive a nearly 40% increase in funding

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

NEW YORK, NY--The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (CUIMC campus) has been competitively renewed as a designated Comprehensive Cancer Center by the federal government's National Cancer Institute (NCI), the largest funder of cancer research in the world. Originally funded in 1972, the HICCC gained comprehensive status in 1979. The most recent renewal marks more than 40 years since the HICCC has maintained its status as a comprehensive cancer center.

NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers must meet rigorous standards for patient-centered and laboratory research that bridges scientific disciplines and is focused on developing better approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.

After a thorough evaluation of every facet of HICCC's operations, the NCI awarded the HICCC with the Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, the highest ranking given. The redesignation comes with a five-year support grant of $26.5 million, an increase of nearly 40% in funding over the previous support grant.

The funding supports extensive programs at the HICCC that affect cancer research, patient care, education/training and community outreach, including:

  • Cancer genomics and epigenomics
  • Tumor biology and microenvironment
  • Precision oncology and systems biology
  • Cancer population science
  • Clinical trials
  • Shared resources (core facilities)
  • Pilot grants
  • Health professional training and education
  • Community outreach, advocacy, and patient education

For patients coming to HICCC, that means their care is informed by the most sophisticated, cutting-edge, evidence-based methods of preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.

"As a comprehensive cancer center housed in one of the nation's most prestigious hospitals and academic medical research centers, we offer our patients the most compassionate, cutting-edge care available, from top scientists and clinicians," says Anil K. Rustgi, MD, director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian and interim dean of Columbia's Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine. "Having access to this robust cancer care and research ecosystem is crucial for the patients we serve in Upper Manhattan and the New York City metropolitan area, where the incidence of some common cancers is higher than the national average."

"The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center has demonstrated that it is truly one of the nation's preeminent centers for cancer care, research, patient education, and advocacy," says Steven J. Corwin, MD, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian. "We are proud to receive this recognition and support from the National Cancer Institute, which will allow us to continue the critical work of pioneering research and advancing cancer care for patients and families in our local community, nation, and around the world."

Accelerating Research to Improve Cancer Care

The HICCC was one of the first cancer centers to be funded by the NCI Cancer Center program. It is one of 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States and one of three in New York City.

Research in the HICCC has led to widespread advances in cancer research and progress in cancer care, including new immunotherapy approaches in lung and prostate cancer, the first effective treatment for connective tissue cancers, and new surgical protocols for treating uterine and cervical cancer.

HICCC oncologists also help guide the testing of new therapies in nationwide clinical trials through their leadership positions in the NCI's National Clinical Trials Network, the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), SWOG Cancer Research Network, and other clinical trial collaboratives.

Over the past five years, researchers at HICCC have made new discoveries in cancer immunotherapy, expanded the use of systems biology and genomics to identify personalized cancer treatments, and introduced mathematical and engineering approaches to the study of cancer.

Increasing Access to Care

HICCC physicians delivered more than 120,000 cancer treatments last year, up from 90,000 in 2014. The number of patients enrolled in clinical trials at the center has increased over the past five years by nearly 40%, with underrepresented minorities accounting for nearly 50% of all study participants.

HICCC is committed to providing underserved patients with the best cancer care. More than 60% of the cancer center's patients are non-white, 35% are immigrants, and many live in poverty. The cancer center was one of the first to join the NCI Community Oncology Research Program, which helps bring the latest cancer treatments to underserved patients within their own communities. The center also has expanded its Community Outreach and Engagement initiative, establishing a formal office that integrates the center's research efforts with community needs and priorities and guided by inclusive Community Advisory and Patient Advocacy Boards to identify and address additional barriers to cancer care in the community.

Over the past five years, the HICCC has made key leadership appointments in radiation oncology, immunotherapy, precision oncology, computational biology, and stem cell research.

"I'm proud to support the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian and their cutting-edge cancer research and patient care," said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. "HICCC has earned redesignation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute and will be awarded increased federal funding to support their critical work in cancer care, research and patient education and advocacy. I will continue to advocate on behalf of this prestigious hospital and academic research center and the talented medical professionals who valiantly care for New Yorkers, lead the world in advancing medical research, and educate our communities day in and day out."

"As one of the nation's leading centers for cancer care, the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian has been at the forefront of cancer research, patient care and education, advocacy, and more," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "This redesignation confirms that HICCC is a leader in groundbreaking cancer research. I am thankful that this top-notch institution will continue its important work on behalf of New Yorkers and individuals across the nation fighting cancer."

"After months of efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, we see more clearly than ever the importance of a resilient, multidisciplinary, and interconnected public health infrastructure and clinical research network in our community and around the nation," said Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). "As a National Cancer Institute-designated Center, the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, in collaboration with research and treatment centers across the country, has been at the forefront of groundbreaking progress in cancer research and treatment. This is a tremendous honor that recognizes the hard work and dedication to the highest quality of care that NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center strives for and delivers to the Washington Heights and Northern Manhattan community."

Notable accomplishments in past five years

  • Scientists at the cancer center are among the world's most prolific and innovative, helping boost Columbia to the top position among health care institutions in the 2019 Nature Index annual rankings.
  • Last year alone, the HICCC received over $19 million in multi-investigator research grants, more than doubling the number of collaborative team science projects since 2014.
  • The HICCC saw an increase in NCI funding of 132% since 2014 to $25.7 million, with $92 million in cancer funding overall.

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The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) of Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (CUIMC campus) is dedicated to curing cancer through innovative basic, clinical, and population-based research and outstanding patient care. HICCC researchers and physicians are dedicated to understanding the biology of cancer and to applying that knowledge to the design of cancer therapies and prevention strategies that reduce its incidence and progression and improve the quality of life for those affected by cancer. With expertise in harnessing translational research to bridge scientific discovery to clinical applications, the HICCC's goal is to provide novel diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive approaches and education to cancer for patients and community members in the New York City area, New York State, the United States, and the world. For more information, visit cancer.columbia.edu.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Irving Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. For more information, visit cuimc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.

NewYork-Presbyterian

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation's most comprehensive, integrated academic health care systems, encompassing 10 hospital campuses across the Greater New York area, more than 200 primary and specialty care clinics and medical groups, and an array of telemedicine services.

A leader in medical education, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is the only academic medical center in the nation affiliated with two world-class medical schools, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. This collaboration means patients have access to the country's leading physicians, the full range of medical specialties, latest innovations in care, and research that is developing cures and saving lives.

Ranked the #4 hospital in the nation and #1 in New York in U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals rankings, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is also recognized as among the best in the nation in the U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals rankings. Founded nearly 250 years ago, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has a long legacy of medical breakthroughs and innovation, from the invention of the Pap test to pioneering the groundbreaking heart valve replacement procedure called TAVR.

NewYork-Presbyterian's 47,000 employees and affiliated physicians are dedicated to providing the highest quality, most compassionate care to New Yorkers and patients from across the country and around the world.

For more information, visit http://www.nyp.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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