Stanford Cancer Institute

Cancer clinical trials launched at Stanford clinic in Emeryville

Emeryville Building

Stanford’s Emeryville cancer clinic opened in September 2020 to make high-quality cancer care accessible to residents in the East Bay. The clinic has medical and surgical oncology services available and is now expanding into cancer clinical trials.  

The trial opened at the Emeryville clinic in April 2024 and is led by Stanford Cancer Institute (SCI) member Jennifer Caswell-Jin, MD. SCI member Candice Thompson, MD, co-principal investigator of the study and breast surgeon at the Emeryville location, says that the study examines ER+ breast cancer subtypes and asseses tumor response to antiestrogen medications before surgery or treatment. 

Thompson said, “The trial was initially opened in the Palo Alto and South Bay clinic locations, and we opened it in Emeryville because we had a lot of patients that were being referred for the trial, but they had to travel to Palo Alto or South Bay to participate.”

Jessica Liang, patient care manager at the Emeryville cancer clinic, says that transportation is a barrier for patients, especially if enrolling in a clinical trial means crossing a bridge to Palo Alto. 

“Being able to offer trials locally where they don’t have to travel too far means a lot in terms of providing the same standard of care to patients and having access where it wasn’t previously available.” 

Caswell-Jin spoke with Thompson to bring the study to Emeryville, and they had to ensure resources were in place to provide the same level of care. This includes available clinical trial coordinators, carriers that can bring specimens from one location to another, and the ability to repeat biopsies if needed.

Pamela Herena, director of clinical operations at the Stanford Cancer Institute Clinical Trials Office, says the Emeryville clinic started its research journey in January 2024 when two physicians became Stanford faculty, a requirement to partake in research. 

Herena says, “We started that initiation and utilized this first trial as our pilot, where we would help walk all the different departments through how and what their involvement is with research and clinical trials.” 

Herena and her team provided overall training on completing feasibility to ensure they meet the requirements of this study and future trials, instructing everyone in their roles to implement the study, and providing a high-level overview to staff on ethical practices, good clinical practice guidelines, and other protection components. 

Staff members from the Palo Alto clinic have been traveling to Emeryville to assist while clinical trial staff positions are being filled. Herena says they plan to hire a lead clinical research coordinator and more staff as more trials become available at the location. To accommodate more clinical trials in the future, they are building workflows with protocols that ensure the same format is followed for all trials. Additionally, Herena’s team plans to hire a clinical research manager who will oversee Stanford’s network of cancer clinics, as well as initiate an oversight committee that will examine patient populations and clinic resources to determine which trials can be implemented effectively and efficiently. 

Herena says, “The goal as we recruit staff is to open new clinical trials instead of referring out and make sure we’re opening appropriate trials for the Emeryville community.”

She applauds the Emeryville clinic team for being engaged and enthusiastic throughout the launch. 

“They’re enthusiastic and passionate about their patients and providing trials to patients. When you have such a willing team who allows you to come in and share this information and new process and workflow with them, it makes things so much easier because they’re ready for the next step.”

Liang notes that they have hired an oncology nurse navigator for breast cancer patients to help them navigate patient care from referral to survivorship and address any barriers to care. The navigator will also connect the patient with clinical trials if there is interest and the patient is a good candidate. 

Regarding future steps, Liang expresses her excitement about the Stanford joint venture with Sutter Health, which will bring a state-of-the art cancer center in Oakland, expand cancer care services, and increase access for patients. 

“It’s exciting that we’re supporting Stanford patients in all network sites across the Bay by ensuring they are being offered Stanford’s various services regardless of where they live.”