Indianapolis, Indiana

Home to the cure of testicular cancer and the world’s only healthy breast tissue bank, the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center in Indianapolis earned National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center status in 2019.

The comprehensive designation recognizes the center’s excellence in basic, clinical, and population research, outstanding educational activities, and effective community outreach program across the state.

Its mission is to create an expanding community of researchers and health professionals who conduct outstanding translational research, provide excellence in education and deliver high-quality patient-centered care.

The center’s nearly 250 research members include basic, clinical, and population science investigators who conduct research in four different programs. The goals of those programs range from understanding the molecular changes that cause cancer to the development of targeted therapies to prevent and treat cancer.

Best known for developing the cure for testicular cancer, the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center has benefitted countless patients around the globe by additionally altering or defining treatment standards for:

  • breast cancer
  • gastrointestinal cancer, including pancreatic and colon cancers
  • genitourinary cancer, such as testis, bladder, and prostate cancers
  • hematologic disorders, including multiple myeloma and leukemia
  • thoracic cancer
  • thymoma and thymic carcinoma
  • tumors associated with neurofibromatosis type 1, primarily in children
  • umbilical stem cell transplantation

The center’s physician-scientists care for patients through a partnership with IU Health, the state’s largest health system. In addition to directing treatment at the IU Health Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center in downtown Indianapolis, IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center members oversee the care of children with cancer at Riley Hospital for Children and influence care at the health system’s hospitals across the state.

The center works with partner organizations around the state to improve the health of all Hoosiers. The collaborative work focuses on reducing the number of new cancer cases and the number of deaths caused by the disease, especially among underrepresented populations. This includes initiatives to increase HPV vaccination rates, as well as developing, testing, and disseminating interventions to increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening in racially diverse and rural populations in Indiana.

The center is home to the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank – the first and only such bank in the world – that collects breast tissue samples from women without breast cancer. By using these samples, researchers may be able to determine the differences between healthy and cancerous tissue, leading to a better understanding of the cellular changes of the disease. The bank’s samples are available to researchers around the world.

On the world stage, the center partners with Moi University School of Medicine and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in western Kenya through the IU-led AMPATH (Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare) consortium. AMPATH Oncology reaches an underserved population of more than five million people in western Kenya. NCI reviewers have called the center’s work in Kenya “an impressive model for addressing global cancer disparities and health equity.”

As for the future, cancer center members serve as teachers to the next generation of physicians and researchers. As educators, the center’s members teach nearly 2,000 students, residents, and fellows each year. The center offers training programs that are geared to high school students through postgraduates.