The University Record, September 17, 1996

U-M Health System joins Michigan Capital Healthcare, MSU in fight against cancer

From Michigan Capital Healthcare

In a precedent-setting partnership, the state's two largest universities have joined in the fight against cancer with Lansing's Michigan Capital Healthcare (MCH).

The three organizations have formed a consortium to construct and operate a radiation oncology unit on the Greenlawn campus of Michigan Capital Medical Center. Through a collaborative effort, the partners will jointly oversee the operation of the new facility, which will feature the nation's most up-to-date radiation treatment.

"Partnerships of this nature are important as we strive to offer quality health care in the most efficient manner possible," says Ellen Gaucher, senior associate hospital director at the U-M. "We are honored to participate in this exciting partnership."

Michigan State University President Peter McPherson says his school "welcomes the opportunity to work closely with MCH and our colleagues at the University of Michigan. We're optimistic this will open the door to future collaboration between our institutions.

"True leaders step forward for the greater good---not in competition but in collaboration," he says. "It's clear to all of us that we share the same vision of bringing the most advanced treatmentin the country to our community. Cancer is an opponent worthy of our efforts, and patients and families deserve the best we can provide."

Allen Lichter, chair of the U-M Department of Radiation Oncology, will be the new center's medical director. "This [partnership] is almost one-of-a-kind. I can't think of another model like this in our field, or another situation in the country where two separate universities have combined to create this kind of a partnership," he says. "It's nothing short of sensational. There are tremendous synergisms derived from this partnership."

The new center will feature cutting-edge technology, which Lichter says "is arguably the most sophisticated treatment of its kind available anywhere in the country."

Physicians will take advanced three-dimensional images of a tumor to pinpoint its shape and then use specialized equipment to finely shape the radiation beam with an accuracy far higher than traditional methods produce.

The 3-D process affects fewer healthy cells, resulting in a higher degree of accuracy and the ability to increase radiation dosage," Lichter says.

"With this technology, we're able to shape the beam much more carefully," he says. "We're able to increase the dosage of radiation by 10 percent to 20 percent. This represents a major step forward. This is truly the cutting edge."