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Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation Signs Long-Term Agreement to be the Provider of Doctors for Northern Illinois Proton Treatment and Research Center

WEST CHICAGO, Ill., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation (NMFF) will supply radiation oncologists to provide proton cancer treatment services at the Northern Illinois Proton Treatment and Research Center (NIPTRC), according to an agreement announced by NIPTRC and NMFF officials today.

NIPTRC, which is under construction 30 miles west of Chicago in the DuPage National Technology Park, will be a world-class, state-of-the-art proton cancer treatment and research center for the Chicago area and the upper Midwest. Northern Illinois University and NIPTRC officials broke ground for the center this summer after state officials approved the project, the first of its kind in the state.

"This agreement is the most significant milestone yet in our progress," said Ray Alden, chair of the NIPTRC board of managers and executive vice president and provost for Northern Illinois University, which is spearheading the project.

"Our center's patients will be treated by the best cancer treatment physicians in the area. Under this agreement, our core doctors will provide proton clinical services exclusively at NIPTRC and will also be full-time faculty members and/or researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine," John Lewis, executive director of NIPTRC, said.

Dr. Bharat Mittal, M.D., chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, also hailed the agreement as a giant leap forward for Chicago-area patients who can benefit from the innovative, but as of yet inaccessible, cancer therapy.

"When proton beam therapy is an appropriate cancer treatment, patients in the Chicago area are forced to travel to one of the only five proton therapy centers currently operating in the U.S. because it is not yet available in Illinois. That's why we chose to work with NIPTRC to serve this need, and bring the first world-class proton treatment and research center to the Chicago area," Mittal said.

"This agreement is about more than addressing the geographic limitations potential proton therapy patients face today. This center is not-for-profit and the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation and NIPTRC share a mission to serve ALL patients, regardless of ability to pay," added Mittal, who also sits on NIPTRC's board of directors.

Additionally, NMFF joined NIU and NIPTRC in pursuit of a mission that includes delivering the highest quality of care for cancer patients and their families at the proton center. NIU's excellent allied health faculty will provide patients and their families with support services not found at other proton treatment centers in the nation, including family and nutrition counseling, speech and audiology services and physical therapy for proton cancer patients. NIU's College of Education will provide on-site tutoring for pediatric proton patients to assist them in their studies during the 6-8 week treatment regimen.

In keeping with the holistic approach to treatment, NIU and NIPTRC also plan to establish a residential facility for patients and their families next to the NIPTRC facility. NIU will provide a hospitality program that will operate and maintain the facility. Combined with the patient and family care services listed above, this will catapult the NIPTRC facility to the premiere proton cancer treatment and research center in the United States and world-wide. NIPTRC's academic emphasis will point the way toward future advances in cancer therapy treatment, Alden said.

"NIU's renowned reputation in accelerator physics makes the university the perfect partner for NMFF, which strives to develop innovative and effective cancer treatments," Cherilyn G. Murer, a member of the NIPTRC board of managers and chair of the NIU Board of Trustees said. "This will be the only cancer treatment facility in Illinois with a mission to bring truly accessible proton treatment therapy to Chicago area residents and discover new medical applications for accelerator physics. It will also design new proton clinical trials and protocols in cooperation with Chicago's outstanding academic medical centers."

NIPTRC along with the Northern Illinois Research Foundation and Northern Illinois University have been working since 2004 to bring state-of-the-art proton treatment to patients in the Chicago area and across the Midwest. The project will be the first of its kind in the upper Midwest and is expected to treat patients from hundreds of miles around the Chicago area.

Proton therapy is a non-invasive and precise radiotherapy treatment, and is particularly useful for treating pediatric and certain adult cancers. As compared to conventional X-ray radiation therapy, proton therapy has the potential of significantly reducing damage to healthy cells in patients with cancer. Proton therapy is currently unavailable in Illinois, and only five proton therapy centers are currently operating nationwide.

A not-for-profit medical treatment center with a strong charity care program, NIPTRC is associated with Northern Illinois University, and is working cooperatively with Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory.

Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation is the regionally and nationally recognized physician group at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. The Foundation has in excess of 700 physicians known for their use of innovative clinical practices and technology and a multidisciplinary approach to provide optimal patient care and service. The Foundation supports the clinical and academic activities of the Feinberg School of Medicine and creates an environment where the best medical practices are demonstrated and learned.

SOURCE The Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation
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