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Pathways to Discovery: Spring 2013

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State-of-the-Art Hospital Expands Cancer Care at the UCCCC

In February, the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Care and Discovery (CCD) welcomed its first patients. The 10-story “hospital for the future” delivers complex specialty care with a focus on cancer, gastrointestinal disease, neuroscience, advanced surgery, and medical imaging.

With an entire floor devoted solely to cancer, patients from the Chicago area and beyond have access to customized care provided by experts at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC).

“It is really exciting for us to have a modern, sophisticated hospital with leading-edge technology where our exceptional doctors and talented researchers can make discoveries that accelerate the pace of medicine,” said Michelle M. Le Beau, PhD, Arthur and Marian Edelstein Professor of Medicine and UCCCC director.

The new hospital is committed not only to providing innovative care, but also to enhancing the patient experience. Its 240 inpatient rooms are all private and spacious, with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline and UChicago campus.

“The capability of providing state-of-the-art cancer care in a patient- and family-centered environment is tremendously exciting,” said Walter Stadler, MD, Fred C. Buffett Professor of Medicine & Surgery and interim chief of the Section of Hematology/Oncology.


The hospital connects by walkway bridges to Comer Children’s Hospital and the outpatient Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine (DCAM), and is strategically located across the street from the Gordon Center for Integrative Science and the Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, two dedicated research facilities housing the basic science laboratories of UCCCC researchers. The close proximity of the buildings facilitates the translation of scientific discoveries into life-saving treatments.

Unlike most hospitals, the spacious CCD houses specialists side-by-side in a collaborative environment. “The ability to have clinicians from multiple fields sharing resources and working in the same place toward a common purpose is unique to our new hospital,” said Chair and Professor of Radiology David Paushter, MD. Collaborations are often as easy as walking down the hall.


Clinicians in the new hospital utilize sophisticated technologies and the most advanced diagnostic tools available, such as surgical robots to treat prostate cancer more precisely and procedural rooms that are outfitted with leading-edge imaging equipment.

These rooms feature CT (computed tomography) techniques that obtain images from many angles, enabling image-guided procedures that are faster and more comfortable for the patient. For example, a two-part treatment interventional radiology approach for liver cancer that involves embolization of the tumor’s blood vessels using chemotherapy combined with radiofrequency ablation of the tumor can now be performed in the same room. In addition, two neurointerventional biplane suites allow expanded capability for the non-invasive treatment of strokes, brain aneurysms, and tumors by the neurointerventional team.

Procedural rooms are also equipped with monitors that integrate multiple inputs of data, such as the patient’s radiologic images and tumor cytology reports. “Seeing all the information on one screen makes the procedure much more efficient,” said Irving Waxman, MD, professor of medicine. Piloted at DCAM for the past 2 years, this technology is now the standard of care at the CCD.

At many medical centers, Dr. Waxman added, integration is an afterthought.

In addition to technology that streamlines medical procedures, the new hospital also functions as a state-of-the-art platform for teaching the next generation of cancer surgeons. Students at the Pritzker School of Medicine can watch procedures via the hospital’s video streaming and teleconferencing capabilities. “The hospital is set up to integrate our clinical and research excellence with our teaching,” said Mitchell C. Posner, MD, Thomas D. Jones Professor of Surgery.


The CCD was designed to accommodate innovations and changing medical needs for decades to come. New cancer interventions will be based on ever-advancing technologies, such as high-intensity frequency ultrasound, which uses sound waves to treat tumor masses. Aytekin Oto, MD, professor of radiology and surgery, and colleagues have been investigating the technology as a potential treatment for prostate cancer, in addition to the current offering of laser ablation of prostate cancer guided by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Over time, the technology may be incorporated into practice at the CCD.

Also likely in the future are hybrid procedures in which surgeons operate on a patient from both an endoscopic and traditional surgery approach. Dr. Waxman said such minimally invasive procedures could spare tissue and provide better outcomes for patients with cancer. The CCD is one of few hospitals with operating rooms that are set up for such procedures. “The CCD is very progressive in terms of planning for the innovations that lie ahead,” he said.

Ernst Lengyel