The following is an excerpt from an article entitled “Level of Expertise Sets Surgeons at Hand and UpperEx Center Apart” by Vannesa Orr from North Hills Monthly Magazine. The article discusses surgeons who include Marshall L. Balk, M.D., the husband of Karen Fortney Balk, who is the founder of the John F. Fortney Charitable Pancreatic Cancer Research Group, and it later goes on the talk about Dr. Moser and the AFFPC.
Dr. Balk and his wife, Karen Fortney Balk, have taken this dedication to research even further through their establishment and support of the John F. Fortney Charitable Pancreatic Cancer Research Group. The foundation is named after Karen’s father, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006 and passed away in 2008. Throughout his illness, Fortney was treated by Dr. A. James Moser, MD, FACS, and he shared with his family his desire to support Dr. Moser’s innovative research.
Formerly the staff surgeon in the Division of Surgical Oncology at UPMC and the co-director of its multidisciplinary UPMC Pancreatic Cancer Center, Dr. Moser is considered a clinical innovator, internationally recognized as a leader in the application of robotic technology and minimally invasive approaches for the treatment of complex pancreatic disease. In 2010, he was named Researcher of the Year in pancreatic cancer research by the Translational Genomics Research Institute. Dr. Moser was recently named the executive director of the new Institute for Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, part of Harvard Medical School.
To date, the foundation has raised approximately $200,000, which they have donated to support Dr. Moser’s research. “Dr. Moser’s first goal is to establish the Minimally Invasive Pancreatic Surgery Registry to accumulate and analyze data from surgery for pancreatic cancer at 11 large hospitals across the country,” explained Karen Fortney Balk of how the funds are being used. “These funds continue to have a local impact, as UPMC is one of the institutions that is collaborating in this database.
“Once the database is underway, Dr. Moser’s aim is to link the genetic analysis of patient tumors removed surgically to patients’ survival,” she added. According to Dr. Moser, success in this area has been seen in the treatment of breast cancer, where a gene signature can now determine with tremendous accuracy whether or not a woman should be treated with chemotherapy.
The John F. Fortney Charitable Pancreatic Cancer Research Group recently became part of a larger group, The Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer (AFFPC). “AFFPC will fund the genetic portion of the tumor analysis, which we hope will lead to improved treatments for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Fortney Balk.”