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March 27, 2017 - MCI recruits medical oncologist with interest in clinical trials

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Dr. Sachin Pai has joined USA Mitchell Cancer Institute as a staff medical oncologist and program leader in Developmental Therapeutics, where he will treat patients and pursue his interest in clinical trials.

Pai comes to MCI from Northwestern University in Chicago, where he completed an advance fellowship in early phase clinical trials at Northwestern Medicine Developmental Therapeutics Institute. He also earned a master’s degree in Clinical Investigation.

“My interest is early drug development, where you want to know whether an experimental drug is safe in humans and what is the right dose,” said Pai. “That’s the really exciting part of our translational research.”

Clinical trials are research studies designed to test agents or other health-related interventions to determine their impact on disease. MCI’s clinical trials program has grown to include more than 40 trials, with an estimated 30 percent minority enrollment. The program is headed by gynecologic oncologist Dr. Rodney Rocconi, MCI associate director for clinical research.

“We are extremely excited about Dr. Pai joining the USA-MCI.  Without exception, every cancer therapy is based on previous clinical trials,” Rocconi said. “Dr. Pai’s talents and expertise in early trial development will fit in perfectly with our mission in Clinical Trials to provide the best treatments for our patients.”

Pai said that new cancer therapies increasingly include immunotherapy, which harnesses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer, and targeted therapies, in which treatments target genes or proteins specific to the patient. He envisions more personalized therapies in which oncologists gather data from a patient and offer next-generation DNA sequencing for preventing or detecting cancer early.

“Our patients need access to these trials,” Pai said. “By bringing in new drugs, we are gaining access to the drugs of the future, and we are contributing to the science.”

As a medical oncologist, Pai will also treat patients. His clinical interests include malignancies of the gastrointestinal tract, including pancreatic cancer.

Pai earned an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) at Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore, India. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in Shreveport and a fellowship in medical oncology at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans.

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