March 1, 2018:

Investigator Spotlight

Nancy Chan, MD, medical oncologist, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New JerseyResearch interests: I am interested in discovering and developing new therapies for the treatment of breast and gynecological malignancies. I have witnessed various immunotherapies shrink tumors within weeks and help women live longer with their cancer with minimal side effects. I have also faced the frustration of lack of response and rare but life threatening side effects of immunotherapy. I hope that my research will contribute to how to identify responders, as well as how to improve and potentiate durable response. Our immune system is extremely intricate and sophisticated, we are still learning so much about its potentials. Our collaborations with my colleagues at Rutgers, the Big Ten, and pharmaceutical companies are driving progress in the field. The Big Ten breast cancer research consortium has developed innovative trials to explore the potential benefits of a variety of targeted therapies in triple negative, hormone receptor positive, and HER2 positive breast cancers.

Little-known facts about Dr. Chan:

  • I am working towards a head stand. I am notorious for nagging my patients to exercise regularly, so I try to practice what I preach. For the past three years, I have been rediscovering myself through yoga. I love power yoga for a good sweat, and short stretch and flow yoga for de-stressing on busy days. One day soon, I will do the head stand, but not yet.
  • My favorite words are: cancer-free. My dream, like all my colleagues, is to cure and prevent cancer. I believe it is attainable.


Thought Leader Perspectives

Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS, director, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; senior vice president for oncology services, RWJBarnabas Health.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. 1/13/17 Photo by John O’Boyle

The translation of scientific discoveries from the laboratory bench to the resulting treatments at the patient bedside and back again has been a cornerstone of cancer centers for decades as they work to unravel the mysteries of cancer. But in recent years, there has been a much needed shift to a model of integrated care between cancer centers, hospital systems and other health sciences entities enabling more to be accomplished for our patients and advancements to be made on the scientific front.

At Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey we embrace this model. In concert with RWJBarnabas Health, we focus on delivering cutting-edge cancer treatment to our patients closer to home. This partnership means we can reach more patients with novel therapies and clinical trials to which they may not have had access to previously.  Our collaboration with the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium also helps us achieve this goal, enabling us to more rapidly translate scientific outcomes into anti-cancer therapies thanks to shared patient populations, protocols and data among widely recognized research universities and their cancer centers.

An integrated approach through our program means access to interdisciplinary care in which practitioners are pulled together into teams allowing patients to see all specialists at once. Patients are then navigated to the part of our program that is best suited for favorable outcomes and is most convenient for them, whether at Rutgers Cancer Institute or one of the RWJBarnabas Health hospitals across New Jersey leaving the patient minimal travel for world-class cancer care.  As an example, through the newly established Endocrine and Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute, those with very unique forms of cancer involving the thyroid, adrenal glands or hormone producing adrenal tumors can first be seen by specialists at our location, then have the prescribed treatment regimen administered at a facility closer to home.

Clinicians in all of our programs work closely with scientists on basic, clinical, and translational research activities in an effort to advance our understanding of all tumors, including those with unique profiles. In addition, Rutgers Cancer Institute has entered into a new research partnership with the largest hospital within the RWJBarnabas Health system.  This enhanced relationship allows the most advanced clinical research studies to be offered to patients in their community at an outstanding facility with exceptional physicians under the oversight and direction of Rutgers Cancer Institute. The partnership will enhance the overall quality of cancer care delivery and provide improved access to the latest treatments such as immunotherapy and precision medicine based agents. 

Along with RWJBarnabas Health, the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium and others, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey will continue to develop and drive collaborative opportunities focused on integrated care  and the science behind that care leading to improved outcomes – not only for our patients here in New Jersey, but for all of those impacted by cancer.


About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to almost 9,500 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit