A Champion for Expanding Access to Lung Cancer Breakthroughs

Lung Cancer Heroes®, CURE® Lung Cancer Heroes® 2021 Essay Book, Volume 2,

A colleague describes Dr. Edward S. Kim’s devotion to improving lung cancer care and creating more inclusive clinical trial practices.

Dr. Edward S. Kim is a widely respected cancer researcher known for his work on the molecular prognostication of lung cancer. But where his extraordinary brilliance lies is in his executive leadership — as he works to change the way cancer care is accessed. He is bringing unprecedented levels of advanced care to the community setting, and he is changing present-day clinical trial practices to make them more inclusionary.

Dr. Kim, the physician-in-chief at City of Hope Orange County, is revolutionizing access to life- saving cancer treatment. In his executive role, he is leading an effort to build a world-class cancer center and network of care in the heart of Orange County, California (population, 3.2 million), which will make advanced care available where people live and work — not in the traditional academic medical institution setting. Currently, 20% of people in Orange County must leave the area for highly specialized cancer care. But by situating all the resources of a top cancer institution close to home, Dr. Kim and City of Hope will answer the call of local patients in need of the latest care and will, ultimately, save lives.

When completed, City of Hope Orange County will be a campus for advanced care and treatment, along with the latest in cancer research. Additionally, a network of cancer facilities — some already open for care — will branch throughout the region. This is a model Dr. Kim developed at Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will pursue on an even greater scale in Orange County.

Additionally, Dr. Kim’s passion for promoting health access and equity has led him to trailblazing reform for clinical trials, shining a light on antiquated practices that have left out minority populations and others. His research and writing are disrupting age-old practices that often eliminate populations from even consideration for clinical trials due to age, previous access to care or other exclusionary practices.

The author of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)-Friends of Cancer Research Joint Research Statement published in Clinical Cancer Research (2017 and 2021), Dr. Kim believes that clinical trials must start with the philosophy of including all participants by default, excluding those only for scientific-evidence-based safety reasons. In making his case, Dr. Kim cites the 2019 ASCO TAPUR study, which reviewed the electronic health records of 10,500 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, finding that nearly half of all potential participants were unnecessarily excluded. As he points out, exclusionary practices hurt individuals and larger populations because studies do not represent real-world patients with cancer.

As noted earlier, Dr. Kim is also a widely respected cancer researcher who has contributed to many advances in thoracic oncology including the BATTLE study in 2012, which introduced personalized therapy in lung cancer. His brilliant work in molecular prognostication for lung cancer is revolutionizing personalized medicine, making immunotherapy an effective option for more patients.

For being one of the nation’s most passionate advocates for broader access to advanced cancer care, for his leadership in disrupting and transforming medical research and for his groundbreaking clinical work, Dr. Edward Kim is deserving of recognition. He is one of America’s greatest lung cancer heroes.

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