Moffitt Cancer Center, AdventHealth launch first collaborative cancer clinical trial in Central Florida

A woman conducting a lab test.

The trial is the first part of a broad partnership between the organizations to expand cancer treatment and research in Central Florida.

CELEBRATION, Fla., Sept. 2, 2020Moffitt Cancer Center and AdventHealth, after announcing their major partnership last September, have launched their first collaborative clinical trial – a Phase I trial testing the effectiveness of a promising new combination therapy for lung cancer.

The collaborative trial is a major milestone for local patients who previously would have had to travel to Tampa or beyond to access the innovative early-stage investigational therapies available through cancer clinical trials.

The focus of the trial is to discover the effects of the drug ceritinib (Zykadia®) used in combination with docetaxel (Taxotere®) on participants with a specific type of non-small cell lung cancer. Both drugs are FDA approved cancer treatments; this trial will assess their effectiveness in combination with one another.

“The opening of this trial is the first visible benefit for patients to come out of our relationship with Moffitt Cancer Center,” said Dr. Steven R. Smith, Associate Center Director, AdventHealth – Moffitt Cancer Center Partnership and Chief Scientific Officer of the AdventHealth Research Institute Orlando. “This initiative is just the beginning of what we’ll accomplish together in advancing cancer care and research here in Central Florida.”

The trial, which is now accruing patients, is open at AdventHealth Celebration, where a Moffitt – AdventHealth clinical research unit is in the final stages of construction and is scheduled to open this fall. The new facility will have 28 chairs in the infusion center to provide standard-of-care therapies and 14 chairs in the clinical research unit, where investigation treatments will be administered. Care will be provided to patients with solid tumors and blood cancers.

“Our collaborative partnership with AdventHealth allows Moffitt the opportunity to provide even more Floridians with access to world-class cancer care and groundbreaking clinical trials,” said Dr. Nikhil Khushalani, Assistant Center Director of Clinical Research Review and Partnerships and senior member of the Department of Cutaneous Oncology at Moffitt. “We look forward to the continuing growth of our partnership and its benefit to cancer patients across the state.”

The opening of the trial is another significant milestone in the partnership’s goal to establish AdventHealth as a consortium partner within Moffitt’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Center Support Grant, which signifies NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation. NCI designation is the gold standard for cancer research and positively influences clinical care. It’s bestowed upon the nation’s top institutions in recognition of innovative and impactful science, interdisciplinary research, education and training, and the ability to translate discoveries into patient care. Moffitt and AdventHealth have established a research consortium that both institutions hope will be recognized by the NCI in 2026.

In addition to the collaboration at Celebration, the statewide partnership includes a Moffitt outpatient satellite cancer center on the campus of AdventHealth Wesley Chapel, outside of Tampa. Moffitt will also offer clinical trials at this location, which is slated to open in February 2021.

About AdventHealth

Founded in 1908 by pioneering Seventh-day Adventists who believed in whole-person health — healing the body, mind and spirit — AdventHealth today operates more 50 hospitals and hundreds of care centers in nearly a dozen states, making it one of the largest faith-based health-care systems in the United States.

AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division encompasses 23 hospitals and emergency rooms in the seven counties in and surrounding metro Orlando — Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk, Lake, Volusia and Flagler — and cares for more than two million patient visits per year. The Central Florida Division’s care network also includes more than 30 CentraCare urgent-care centers; dozens of sports-rehab and imaging centers; and hundreds of physicians, ranging from primary care to a full spectrum of specialties.

AdventHealth Orlando, the division’s flagship campus, serves both as a community hospital and as a major tertiary referral hospital for the region, much of the Southeast, the Caribbean and Latin America. It is a designated statutory teaching hospital and trains physicians from around the world on the newest technology and procedures.

The system provides a wide range of health services, including many nationally and internationally recognized programs in cardiology, cancer, women’s medicine, neuroscience, diabetes, orthopedics, pediatrics, transplant and advanced surgical programs.

The AdventHealth Research Institute has more than 250 investigators and more than 500 clinical trials in progress. Seventy-two of these active clinical trials are in oncology. AdventHealth Orlando is also home to the Translational Research Institute and the Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement.

About Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is the No. 11 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 7,000 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.4 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT ( Call1-888-663-3488), visit, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.