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VIDEOS | 5th anniversary of the John P. Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed

By RANDY GRIFFITH | The Tribune-Democrat | Published: December 1, 2017

BETHESDA, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Ceremonies for the fifth anniversary of John P. Murtha Cancer Center's dedication at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center highlighted the expansion of programs associated with the center.

National military medicine and cancer leaders joined Friday to officially launch the new Multi-Federal Cancer Initiative to align all government cancer treatment and research programs.

The initiative expands on an existing partnership of Walter Reed, National Cancer Institute and Uniformed Services University by adding the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The American public really wants its federal agencies to work together,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said during the ceremony.

The partnership allows all the participating organizations to provide the best treatment available for patients in any of the federal cancer programs, said Col. Craig Shriver, director of the Murtha Cancer Center.

Expanding the partnership is important because all those serving in the military transition into the VA, Shriver said.

“This will continue to help us break down barriers and help us to treat patients,” Shriver said.

Bringing the VA's cancer research into the initiative will help build the program at Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine at Windber, Shriver said.

Walter Reed and the VA were already participating the APOLLO Program, which is short for for Applied Proteogenomics Organizational Learning and Outcomes.

Under the program, all cancer patients have tumor tissue analyzed at the molecular level, identifying DNA, RNA and protein makeup, Shriver said.

“Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine is a key component of APOLLO,” he said, explaining that thousands of individual tissue samples from more than 8,000 patients are collected centrally at Windber, where scientists provide tiny slices of molecule samples to researchers in seven labs, Shriver explained.

In addition, Windber has designed and rolled out the bioinformatics platform to track and provide digital analysis for the APOLLO network.

The leading edge research benefiting members of the military and veterans will also help their families and could lead to more advances, which is a legacy the late John Murtha would relish, his nephew Brian Murtha said at the program.

Brian Murtha is a retired Marine colonel.

“This is taking care of families,” Murtha said. “He liked to focus on that.”

©2017 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.)
Visit The Tribune-Democrat at www.tribune-democrat.com
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From left, Dr. Richard Thomas, President of Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Capt. Mark Kobelja, Director of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; Dr. Norman Sharpless, Director of the National Cancer Institute; and David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs pose after signing the Collaborative Efforts Statement on the 5th anniversary of the John P. Murtha Cancer Center on the campus of Walter Reed Medical Center, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.
KEN-YON HARDY/STARS AND STRIPES

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