Ahn to Partner with Johns Hopkins Cancer Treatment, Research Targeted

Article excerpt

With a plan "to share knowledge and expertise," Allegheny Health Network has signed a memorandum of understanding to affiliate with the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.

The affiliation is expected to stipulate a five-year agreement during which the two health centers will collaborate on education, research and clinical matters.

The deal is expected to be finalized within a few months.

The Johns Hopkins center was one of the first to be designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute, one of 41 such centers nationally including the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Under the agreement, AHN patients would have access to Johns Hopkins clinical cancer trials and doctors from the Kimmel center would consult with AHN physicians for rare cancer cases.

While patients could be treated in Baltimore in rare cases -- "maybe 1 in 1,000" patients -- the goal is to incorporate Hopkins' expertise to treat patients in Pittsburgh, officials said.

The affiliation agreement also calls for the creation of a fund for cancer research, although AHN officials declined to give specifics on financing.

Highmark's Allegheny Health Network has been seeking various partnerships and affiliations in anticipation of the possible end of its contract with Pittsburgh's dominant health system UPMC in 2015. But physician David Parda, chairman of the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, said at a press briefing Wednesday that the affiliation had less to do with the possible end of a contract "and more about collaboration. …