AFFPC Sponsored Research Projects

You Can Make a Difference
Research is the key to more effective, less-invasive treatments for pancreatic cancer. The generosity of The Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer (AFFPC) grows more important as traditional funding sources like government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and device manufacturers become less available due to budget cuts.

Our Research Partners
The Institute for HepatoBiliary and Pancreatic Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIMDC) supports three full time faculty and seven full-time research fellows investigating all aspects of care for patients with pancreatic cancer and related diseases. BIMDC’s current fellows are the best and brightest from countries like the USA, Netherlands, Colombia, and Peru. Their efforts span institutional and national boundaries and include expert centers like University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the University of Pisa in Italy, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.

Importance of Your Philanthropic Support
The AFFPC supports numerous projects and activities together with substantial contributions of research space, time, and effort from the Roberta and Stephen Weiner Department of Surgery at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. Your generous contributions are critical to our continued partnership with allied institutions around the world. Your donations sustain a world-class research environment that enables BIMDC’s international fellows to obtain grant funding from their home universities and governments.

Research In Support of The AFFPC’s Core Mission
Your donations are targeted to the following specific categories of research to improve the lives of patients and families affected by pancreatic cancer:

  • Better Care for Patients Suffering from Pancreatic Cancer
  • Personalizing Treatment: Getting Beyond the One-Size-Fits-All Approach
  • A Laser Beam Focus on Quality of Life
  • Empowering Patients and Families to Make Informed Choices
  • Assessing New Technologies for Treating Patients with Pancreatic Cancer
  • The creation of the first-ever clinical biomarker to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer

Current Status of Research Projects Funded by the AFFPC:

    1. Better Care for Patients Suffering from Pancreatic Cancer
      • Outcomes database: BIMDC revised and updated the patient outcomes database for all pancreatic surgery performed at BI Deaconess since 2001, a sixteen month project. The database allows BIMDC to evaluate the outcomes of surgery with respect to performance, quality, and survival and permits ongoing studies of the impact of minimally-invasive technology on patient outcomes and perceptions of treatment.
      • Multidisciplinary clinics create teams of cancer specialists, improve the survival of patients, and expand the available options for treatment. BIMDC is studying the impact of their multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Center on the care process and survival of patients as well as their perceptions about pancreatic cancer so they can become more effective patient advocates. This project will be completed in 2014.
    2. Personalizing Treatment: Getting Beyond the One-Size-Fits-All Approach
      • BIMDC has developed and validated a mathematical model to predict survival of patients
        diagnosed with pancreatic cancer using characteristics of their tumors as seen on CAT (compute BIMDC d tomography scans). This model provides patients a better way to understand how surgery might extend their lives, and whether alternative treatment options might make more sense for them. BIMDC is in the process of combining this technique to estimate life expectancy with models to predict the likely complication rate of surgery to empower patients even further. This project will be completed in 2014.
    3. A Laser Beam Focus on Quality of Life
      • Comparing pain scores and the use of narcotic pain medicines after traditional open pancreatic surgery with minimally-invasive surgery performed using a robot.
        • Restoring quality of life after surgery is particularly important to patients with pancreatic cancer. BIMDC is collecting outcomes of patients undergoing these two types of surgery to remove their pancreatic tumors to give patients the ability of patients to make informed decisions about how they want their surgery performed. This project will be completed in early 2015
    4. Empowering Patients and Families to Make Informed Choices
      • Quality measures for pancreatic cancer: patient perspectives.
        • Empowering patients with pancreatic cancer to make informed decisions which
          are best for them and their families is a key project of The AFFPC. This project identifies metrics of quality and outcome that are important to patients and families considering treatment options for pancreatic cancer. This project will be completed in late 2015.
    5. Assessing New Technologies for Treating Patients with Pancreatic Cancer
      • Multicenter outcomes of robotic pancreaticodudodenectomy
        • This project is evaluating the outcomes of high-technology pancreatic surgery
          (the robotic “Whipple procedure”) at five worldwide centers of excellence: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and University of Pisa, Italy. This project is completed and entering the publication phase.
      • Implementing a new robotic-assisted pancreas surgery program
        • This project evaluates the learning curve for advanced robotic surgery at a high-volume center for pancreas surgery without prior experience in minimally invasive pancreas surgery. This project is completed and entering the publication phase.
      • Technique and outcomes of robot-assisted minimally-invasive surgery for duodenal tumors.
        • This project is completed and entering the publication phase.

      The AFFPC Supports World-Class Scientists
      Clinical Research Fellowship in Diseases of the Pancreas and Liver (to be named by AFFPC) Dr. Ammara Watkins is the 2013-2015 Clinical Research Fellow in diseases of the pancreas and liver. She is enrolled in the Program for Clinical Effectiveness at the Harvard School of Public Health, a premier program for educating researchers in the design, conduct, and analysis of clinical research studies. Dr. Watkins is a graduate of Emory University and Emory School of Medicine and is currently a categorical surgery resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

      Expert Biostatisticians
      Your gifts directly support our collaboration with expert biostatisticians involved with all aspects of study design, data acquisition and analysis as well as manuscript preparation. Independent statistical expertise is critical to unbiased conclusions in the service of Our Values, Mission, and Vision.

      Outreach
      Your support allowed research fellows to acquire and analyze research data from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as well as the University of Maastricht and to present their findings at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the America’s HepatoPancreatoBiliary Association (AHPBA).

      Research Awards during 2014
      2014 IDEAS Symposium Award, Best Poster Presentation: “A Faster Learning Curve: Outcomes of procedure-specific credentialing for robot-assisted HPB surgery.” Pictured are research fellows (from left) Stijn Thoolen and Wald van der Vliet from the University of Maastricht School of Medicine in the Netherlands.