Smilow Cancer Hospital has all the essential ingredients to become one the top cancer centers in the country, if not the world.
Thomas J. Lynch, MD, was already filling big shoes when he was named director of Yale Cancer Center in April 2009 — his own. He was a leading physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, one of the top five cancer centers in the country. "So I knew then what it would take to get there," he now says, referring to stepping into his additional role as physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, which was still six months from opening. Within the first year, though, Dr. Lynch was firmly convinced that Smilow is well on its way of achieving its goal of being a top 10 cancer hospital.
Bringing It All Together
In fact, Yale-New Haven and Yale Cancer Center were already well renowned for its cutting-edge clinical and research programs, as well as its multidisciplinary teams of highly trained oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, nurses, social workers and other specialists. What Smilow Cancer Hospital represents is a single, state-of-the-art facility where all those forces come together to offer comprehensive patient care.
Promoting Personalized Medicine
An innovative approach to cancer care, already in place but further emphasized by Dr. Lynch, is personalized medicine. Essentially, it's using genetic science to tailor individualized therapies for cancer patients. "Cancer is a genetic disease," Dr. Lynch explains, "stemming from a problem with certain genes, which are the blueprints that tell our cells how to grow. Abnormalities in those blueprints can lead to cancer." Through research and clinical trials, scientists and physicians are learning how to identify, in any given patient's cancer, the specific genes that are abnormal. "At Smilow, we want to profile our patients' cancers for as many of those abnormalities as we can, then use drugs or other therapies to treat them." Smilow Cancer Hospital teams have already had success in applying these techniques in treating leukemia, breast cancer and other cancers.
Making a Difference
"This is an extraordinary building," Dr. Lynch says of Smilow Cancer Hospital, "but what makes it special are the people who work here and provide compassionate care to our patients. It's the programs we're developing together that will ultimately make the difference in how we deal with cancer."