Clinical Research

The Clinical Research Office supports the UNM Cancer Center’s vast clinical research efforts. These efforts span several different disciplines, institutions, research groups, community programs and all the counties in New Mexico.

The Clinical Research Office provides scientific and administrative support for:

  • Translation of scientific research into clinical research;
  • Clinical research data collection; and
  • Clinical research scientific review.

It also supports the UNM Cancer Center’s Minority/Underserved National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant and the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance.

Clinical Research at UNM Cancer Center

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Cheryl Willman, MD

All clinical research at the UNM Cancer Center is under the authority of Cheryl L. Willman, MD, the Director and CEO. Dr. Willman has delegated responsibility for UNM Cancer Center Clinical Research to Olivier Rixe, MD, PhD, who is an expert in early drug development. As the Associate Director for Clinical Research, Dr. Rixe is responsible for leading the clinical research activities at the UNM Cancer Center and ensuring collaboration between and among:

  • The Clinical Protocol and Data Management (CPDM) Core;
  • The Protocol Review and Monitoring System (PRMS) Core;
  • The Early Phase Clinical Research Support (EPCRS) Core;
  • The UNM Cancer Center’s Research Programs; and,
  • The disease-specific Clinical Working Groups.
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Olivier Rixe, MD, PhD

Minority NCORP Grant

The University of New Mexico Cancer Center won a 5-year $7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program. The NCORP grant strengthens and expands the clinical trials network in New Mexico. As the parent institution for the NCORP grant, the UNM Cancer Center works closely with the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance.

The NCI recently restructured this program to incorporate more community hospital involvement in research. It sees several strengths in an academic-community health care partnership model. The NCI awarded 14 percent of the total program funding for this year to the New Mexico NCORP, one of the highest amounts in the country. The NCI also called the New Mexico NCORP “a model for community-based participatory cancer research” and said that it “is likely to have exceptional impact in clinical trial and cancer care delivery research.

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New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance

Teresa Stewart, MHA

Teresa Stewart, MS

Teresa Stewart, MHA

In 2002, Dr. Willman and two community physicians developed a statewide cancer clinical trials research network based at the UNM Cancer Center. Called the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance (NMCCA), this not-for-profit, 501c3, public-private joint venture has been a tremendous success. Today, all practicing community-based oncologists in Albuquerque and most community-based oncologists in the state of New Mexico, are NMCCA members.

The NMCCA’s governance model ensures UNM Cancer Center oversight of clinical research while also ensuring community oncology participation. This academic-community partnership is critical to making clinical research available to all New Mexicans. The NMCCA is physically housed in the UNM Cancer Center. A single state-wide cancer-specific Institutional Review Board (IRB), established through a myriad of cooperating legal agreements, enables a clinical trial to open to accrual at all sites simultaneously. Centralizing clinical trials contracting, legal review, scientific review and prioritization, and data safety and monitoring through the UNM Cancer Center Clinical Components also improves data quality and patient safety.

The NMCCA is supported by the UNM Cancer Center’s Minority NCORP grant and recurring financial support from the community healthcare systems. The UNM Cancer Center Director (Dr. Willman) or designee has a permanent Chair or Co-Chair on the NMCCA’s Board of Directors.. And Administrative Director of the UNM Cancer Center Clinical Research Office, Ms. Terri Stewart, serves as the NMCCA Executive Director.