A transformational grant to Hackensack Meridian John Theurer Cancer Center from the Mike & Patti Hennessy Foundation, together with Shannon H. Pulaski, Ashley Hennessy Talamo, Michael Hennessy and Christopher Hennessy, in memory of their parents Mike and Patti Hennessy and in gratitude for the care provided by Andre Goy, M.D., M.S., chairman and director, chief of Lymphoma, and director of Clinical and Translational Cancer Research at John Theurer Cancer Center, will establish the Hennessy Institute for Cancer Prevention and Applied Molecular Medicine. To be located within a new, planned ambulatory facility in Clifton, New Jersey near Hackensack Meridian’s School of Medicine and Center for Discovery and Innovation, the Hennessy Institute’s focus will be on reducing cancer, improving outcomes and preventing recurrence.
“A gift of this magnitude is a game-changer for Hackensack Meridian Health and our already renowned cancer care program,” says Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “But beyond that, it helps us to fulfill a promise that we have made to our communities to transform health care and to be the leader of positive change, ensuring that everyone has access to the best health care possible. In this case, it means literally helping to prevent people from getting cancer, or if they have already had it, to improve their chances of survival by reducing or diagnosing recurrence very early. We are filled with gratitude to the Hennessy family for their generosity, foresight and trust in our abilities.”
With cancer rates anticipated to increase by more than 50% in the next 25 years, accelerating this work is key, particularly in areas with limited testing options like for pancreatic or ovarian cancers, where the survival rates from early diagnosis is 90% versus five or 10% when detected late. Leveraging technology, genomics, wellness, molecular medicine and digital therapeutics to change the way cancer is viewed can reduce the burden of cancer in terms of treatment plans and costs, as well as improve outcomes for patients.
“This is a tremendous gift that will help us build on Applied Molecular Medicine to prevent cancer or its recurrence - in what I call ‘Pre-and Post-Cancer Care,’” says Dr. Goy. “One of the most promising fields in cancer care is toward prevention, as over one half of cancers are lifestyle related; to early detection, as two-thirds of cancer diagnoses and deaths have no screening test; and to prevention of cancer recurrence because patients do not die the first time, but die of recurring disease. The overarching goal is to reduce the burden of cancer across our communities and help people at risk reduce such risk and therefore, their anxiety.”
The Hennessy Institute will have a team of experts and navigators to develop a seamless, easy to use platform, and to empower patients from within their ecosystem. In addition to focusing on early detection through tests like liquid biopsies and genomics, and detecting early relapse to enhance survivorship, the Institute will partner with patients to help mitigate risk factors, including reducing BMI, increasing activity and focusing on nutrition and overall wellness. A third component will measure against efficacy in an effort to demonstrate success and enhance financial coverage and reimbursement for cancer prevention initiatives.
“We know that early detection is key to defeating cancer,” says Shannon H. Pulaski, executive director at the Mike & Patti Hennessy Foundation. “But for individuals who may be at an increased risk for certain types of genetically-linked cancers, the process of undergoing testing, tracking and monitoring changes and reducing your chances of being diagnosed with the disease is a cumbersome process. My family and I were motivated to make this transformational gift in the hopes that it will help to save lives before, during and after cancer, and we are humbled to be able to create this opportunity for those in need. We also would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Goy for his compassionate care and outstanding leadership in this burgeoning field.”
The Hennessy Institute will also address health inequities in cancer research and prevention by securing grants for those unable to pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with this type of advanced medicine. Furthermore, one of the goals is to present the data collected from the Institute to the insurance industry to demonstrate the benefit of cancer prevention both in terms of costs for payers and patients, as well as the health benefits associated with preventative medicine.
“There is a really deep deficit in cancer screenings in underserved communities,” says Dr. Goy. “This significant grant will help to close that gap, improve lives and make it affordable so that everyone has access to preventative care. We are grateful to the Hennessy family for making all of this possible.”