How Saint John’s Is Changing Health Care

A team of clinical and research experts came together on November 7th, 2023 to reveal new approaches that are paving the way to a better future for cancer patients. The panel included Dr. Anton Bilchik, Dr. Jennifer Linehan, Dr. Nicholas Schork, and Dr. Ora Gordon, surgeons, researcher, and scientist. Together in their respective fields, they are working to end cancer.

Breakthroughs in research for pancreatic cancers, colon cancers, urologic cancers, melanoma, and breast cancers have uncovered markers, genes, and protein patterns which offer substantial insights into screening methods, cancers before they develop, and recurrence prevention. “So, all these strategies woven together form a multifaceted attack on cancer that’s going to have major impact in the future,” remarks Dr. Neil Martin, Medical Director of Saint John’s Cancer Institute and world-renowned neurosurgeon.

Dr. Ora Gordon presents at Saint John's
Dr. Ora Gordon presents at Saint John’s Health Center.
Dr. Ora Gordon, director of the genomics program, explained how Saint John’s is one member of a select consortium globally working on high-risk pancreatic cancer. “We have already tested over 1,300 high-risk patients with a blood test to detect 1 of 50 cancers. The early results from this are very promising. There’s a lot of work going on in a global way… [and] we are leaders in this space.”

Patient-focused clinical trials are leading the fight in treating cancers as well. These are studies conducted by a team of dedicated physicians, researchers and scientists to find immediate results during a trial versus waiting for results after a trial has ended. Saint John’s Cancer Institute and Saint John’s Health Center have this unique ability to assess in the lab and then treat in the clinic as is physiologically appropriate to an individual’s biology. What these patient-focused trials are providing are increased pathways of relational data during a trial. “So, it really distinguishes us as this relatively small institution with the power to leverage not only the engagement of our patients, the strength of our research, but our ability to move the dial and be able to find answers that everyone is looking for,” explains Dr. Gordon.

“We can set a precedence for the rest of the world on how clinical studies should be used to benefit patients in real-time and not 10 years after all the data has been aggregated in some way,” says Dr. Nicholas Schork, a quantitative data scientist who is considered to be by his peers, ‘the godfather’ of data science, and adjunct faculty at Saint John’s Cancer Institute.

Event Preview: Researchers, Clinicians, and Scientists Discuss the End of Cancer

Dr. Jennifer Linehan, Dr. Anton Bilchik, Dr. Nicholas Schork, Dr. Ora Gordon, Dr. Neil Martin, Michael Ricks, CEO, and Jeanne Goldsmith discuss progress.

Watch the full-length video of our educational event and Q & A session.

An Uncommon Community Hospital

Saint John’s Health Center is unlike other institutions in that, we are a community hospital that provides personalized, academic-level care and research achieved through the power of Philanthropy.

Saint John’s Health Center is distinct from other community hospitals because of the level of our research and clinical capability. “It’s a community hospital but it’s a community hospital that performs academic medicine and there are not community hospitals that can say that. Community hospitals are not [typically] able and capable to perform academic-level clinical care and research. Those two together, it just does not happen,” states Michael Ricks, CEO of Saint John’s Health Center and President of Saint John’s Cancer Institute. “We will find the cure for cancer at Saint John’s…to revolutionize the way we actually treat patients that have cancer and prevent patients from getting cancer.”

Government agencies, such as the FDA, are ready to engage with health centers that can perform patient-focused studies versus population studies, which take years to find answers to questions, according to Dr. Schork. That means, there is an imperative that needs to be met and will only be met through translational sciences, precision medicine, and dedicated physicians, like at Saint John’s.

“These advances together are going to take us to the end of cancer…It’s going to take a team effort.”

– Neil Martin, MD

Make a contribution today with the Saint John’s Health Center Foundation.

Panel Speakers

Dr. Anton Bilchik Dr. Jennifer Linehan Dr. Nicholas Schork Dr. Ora Gordon
Dr. Anton Bilchik, Professor of Surgical Oncology, Chief of General Surgery, Director of Gastrointestinal and Hepatobiliary Program Director of Gastrointestinal Research Program
Dr. Jennifer Linehan, Associate Professor of Urology & Urologic Oncology, Director of Urology Translational Research at Saint John’s Cancer Institute
Dr. Nicholas J Schork, Deputy Director and Distinguished Professor of Quantitative Medicine at The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Adjunct Faculty, Saint John’s Cancer Institute
Dr. Ora Gordon, Professor of Genetics & Regional Director Southern California, Clinical Genetics and Genomics Medical Director of Integrative Medicine at Disney Family Cancer Center

Transforming biomedical research and medicine into promising new clinical treatments starts here at Saint John’s Cancer Institute.

About the Author

Eleanor Zeri