What Sets Penn Medicine Clinical Trials Apart?

Throughout its history, Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center has been a national leader in developing and conducting clinical trials. Many trials started at Penn have later become part of a national clinical trials group, which includes hundreds or thousands of participants.

Today, we oversee one of the largest clinical trials programs in the country, with more than 200 trials available at any one time.

Because of our excellence in clinical trials, the Abramson Cancer Center has been selected to participate in important national clinical trials for such recognized NCI Clinical Trials Network groups as:

Distinguishing Features of Penn's Clinical Trials Program

Distinguishing features of our program include:

  • The University of Pennsylvania has joined five other of the nation's top institutions to develop cancer immunotherapies through a new research institute, the Parker Institute for Immunotherapy, with a $250 million grant from Napster founder Sean Parker.
  • The Abramson Cancer Center kicked off Vice President Joe Biden's new national initiative to hasten a cure for cancer.
  • Penn investigators hold a prestigious $5 million Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) grant from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America to support the development of novel immune-based therapies for leukemia and lymphoma.
  • Tobacco research scientists are examining several genes that may predispose people to nicotine addiction.
  • Specialists are examining new drugs in cancer prevention and treatment, a field called Developmental Therapeutics.
  • Immunobiologists are modeling protein functions to control immune reactions.
  • Our researchers are using models to investigate how breast cancers arise, and using these models to understand the development of drug resistance, metastasis, and recurrence in breast cancers, as well as using non-invasive imaging approaches such as PET, MRI, and bioluminescence to study breast cancer biology and response to therapy.
  • Our researchers are leading a multi-center clinical trial looking at the effect of tamoxifen on mammographic density and MRI imaging in high-risk women and the relationship of these effects on the prevention of breast cancer.
  • Researchers from the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute are testing a simple peptide vaccine in advanced breast cancer patients. They hope to expand the use to prevent recurrence in patients treated for early stage breast cancer.
  • Our dedicated gynecologic oncology research program is committed to developing more effective treatment options, such as our new Center for Research on Early Detection and Cure of Ovarian Cancer - the first in the region - is conducting exciting research, including an ovarian cancer vaccine and a blood test to detect some ovarian cancers when the tumor is a size where it can be successfully treated.
  • We have a growing head and neck clinical trials program, and is currently testing such innovative treatments as hyperbaric oxygen as a way to restore blood flow after surgery through a $10 Million National Institutes for Health grant.
  • Our head and neck researchers have completed two studies - the most comprehensive and largest to date - that demonstrate the effective use of the daVinci Surgical Robotic System® to perform Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS) which greatly reduces surgical trauma for patients.
  • We developed a treatment for mesothelioma based on work in the laboratory and is testing its effectiveness through a National Cancer Institute grant.
  • Penn is the only institution in the region that is part of a consortia funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct clinical trials for the treatment of brain tumors.
  • Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Program researchers and clinicians are testing whether certain medications may help prevent moles from turning into melanoma.
  • Our researchers are conducting a number of trials of new treatments for melanoma, based on research findings by Penn investigators.

Making History

From the beginning, we have led the way in developing and conducting clinical trials. Our highlights have included the following:

  • In 1991, Penn formed a nationally recognized clinical trials group to advance our ability to use bone marrow transplants for improved patient care.
  • Penn conducted the pivotal trial that demonstrated that bone marrow transplantation was not beneficial over conventional breast cancer therapy.
  • Researchers in the Department of Pathology and the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute (AFCRI) have deepened our understanding of the cancer-causing gene called neu oncogene, determined its role in malignancy, and defined the principles that led to the development of the first approved therapy that targets the proteins of this gene.
  • Penn radiation oncologists established current treatment standards for lung cancer.

Search our current clinical trials.