Levine Cancer Institute - Advances Care for Carolinians

Innovation in healthcare not only means new discovery, like a breakthrough treatment, but also means improving upon long-established processes and procedures. The development of Levine Cancer Institute, which was announced in the fall of 2010, promises transformational innovations in both areas.

Not only will the Institute perform groundbreaking research on rare and complex cancers, it will improve the way cancer care and treatments are delivered to those who have received that most difficult of diagnoses.

A $20 million donation by the Leon Levine Foundation positioned Levine Cancer Institute as a major national player in the war on cancer. Carolinas HealthCare Foundation and community volunteers also pledged $5 million to support the start-up effort. In addition, CHS leaders announced plans to invest an additional $500 million in research and treatment over the next decade, supplemented by local philanthropy in communities served by Carolinas HealthCare.

A visible manifestation of the new institute will be the addition of five stories to Morehead Medical Plaza II in Charlotte. Clinical activity at that location will focus heavily on rare and complex cancers, in conjunction with extensive research and educational activities.

Less visible, but equally important, will be the development of programs that permit cancer patients to receive top notch care without having to travel far from home. This will be accomplished by leveraging the achievements of cancer treatment centers already established at CHS-affiliated hospitals and providers throughout the Carolinas. Levine Cancer Institute will facilitate the sharing of preventive strategies and best practices, while fostering easier access to clinical trials and clinical research protocols.

Equalizing access to cancer treatment, regardless of a patient's location or economic status, is a passion of Derek Raghavan, MD, PhD, who was appointed in late 2010 to take the reins as president. Dr. Raghavan, a world-renowned cancer specialist, served previously as chairman and director of the Taussig Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic.

Appearing as a guest on the final broadcast of the Larry King show, Dr. Raghavan emphasized that the U.S. has significant disparities in cancer care based on geography and patient demographics.

He noted that people who are elderly, poor or living in isolated communities have trouble getting the level of care that is available to others, and one of his top priorities is addressing this on a comprehensive basis.

Expanding care to more people was a key objective of Leon Levine when he and his wife, Sandra, first contemplated a donation that would become the largest ever from the Levine Foundation. He said the time had come for Charlotte to take a national leadership role in building a cancer research and treatment model that would provide more hope to greater numbers of people.

Instead of focusing on the more traditional model of centralizing cancer services at a flagship hospital, he said, Levine Cancer Institute would do the opposite. “Our objective is to offer compassionate care at convenient locations using state-of-the art equipment and protocols,” said Mr. Levine. “This approach positions CHS and its partners among the most innovative providers in the nation.”