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National Jewish Health Launches Cancer Center

jeffrey kernBuilding on the commitment to offer increased services for patients, National Jewish Health has established a new Cancer Center, which will focus on diagnosing and treating lung cancer. Lung cancer is the third leading cause of death in the United States, causing more than 150,000 deaths each year.

Pulmonologist Jeffrey Kern, MD, joined National Jewish Health in December 2009 as the leader of the new oncology division. He comes to National Jewish Health from Case Western Reserve University, where he was the Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine with extensive expertise in lung cancer. Dr. Kern believes the high caliber of pulmonologists and immunologists at National Jewish Health will distinguish the new oncology division and draw patients from across the world.

"One of our hallmarks will be individualized and personalized selection of treatment for patients taking into account a patient's specific type and stage of lung cancer as well as other medical problems." said Dr. Kern. "In addition, with new molecular targeted drugs, therapy can be personalized to an individual tumor's "fingerprint" or mutation profile in some cases."

Dr. Kern will focus initially on building an experienced staff of medical and pulmonary oncologists. "Within six to nine months we expect to have a staff of dedicated, experienced oncologists who are ready to hit the ground running," said Dr. Kern. "I have already received tremendous response from lung cancer specialists across the country with respect to relocating to Denver and being involved in this new program."

Oncology at National Jewish Health will draw on existing strengths in imaging, genomics, interventional pulmonology, immunology, pathology, and clinical research. The department will set up new clinical programs in pulmonary and medical oncology, chemotherapy, and palliative care. An adult infusion center will open shortly to provide chemotherapy treatment. Radiation and surgery treatments will be coordinated closely with the University of Colorado and Rose Medical Center.

Dr. Kern and his colleagues will participate in large clinical trials and translational research. Dr Kern's own research has contributed to our understanding of tumorigenesis in the lung, focusing on the events within cells that control their growth. He will continue that vein of research while recruiting world-class scientists to develop a research program based on epithelial cell biology, cell signaling, tumor immunology, tumor biomarkers, and drug discovery and testing.

Dr. Kern has experience developing thoracic oncology programs. He built nationally recognized programs at both Case Western Reserve University and the University of Iowa. Dr. Kern earned his MD at the University of Wisconsin, and completed a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at the University of Pennsylvania. 

"Our long-term vision is that we will develop a thoracic oncology program that will span all levels of clinical care, perform cutting-edge research, and become a leader in patient, community and physician education" said Richard Martin, MD, Chairman, Department of Medicine.

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