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October 17, 2023

Eligible patients are now enrolling in phase 1 studies, receiving an advanced level of care that positions Mary Bird Perkins in a new, elite category of cancer centers.

BATON ROUGE, La. – Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Louisiana’s largest cancer care organization, announced today the enrollment of its first patients in phase 1 clinical trials, signaling a new level of care close to home. The Cancer Center’s inaugural phase 1 trial, designed to enhance care for patients diagnosed with diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), is part of a continued effort to build a broader, more robust research program that will offer an array of interventional clinical trials. Mary Bird Perkins enrolled the first two DLBCL patients in the world for this groundbreaking trial. Several other phase 1 trials are now open as well.

DLBCL is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) that is common, but highly aggressive. From 2017-2020, there were 357 patients diagnosed with the disease in Louisiana.

Phase 1 clinical trials are the earliest stage of testing for new therapies in humans, often involving a small number of participants. They require a level of expertise and resources only available at the highest-performing cancer centers, offer patients additional options for treatment, and help raise the standard of cancer care in a region when they are offered.

Later phase clinical trials, encompassing phases 2 and 3, expand to larger groups of patients and aim to confirm the safety and efficacy of a treatment, often against the existing standard of care.

Mary Bird Perkins has offered phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for a number of years; however, its clinical trials program began advancing rapidly when Victor Lin, MD, PhD, joined the organization as its medical director for clinical research to oversee its trials program and expand its offerings.

Lin, a physician-scientist, said that the staff and care requirements, among other complexities of phase 1 studies, make them impossible to initiate without appropriate support.

“Phase 1 trials are new and exciting, but they require meticulous attention to detail and vigilance to appropriately safeguard our patients,” Lin explained. “With support and generosity from the local community, Mary Bird Perkins has made a substantial investment in the infrastructure required to undertake these complex protocols. We are committed to bringing more access to high-quality clinical trials to the Gulf South region, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that the patients we enroll will more accurately reflect our diverse community. The data we gather contributes to global research efforts, ultimately benefiting individuals worldwide.”

Every patient receiving care at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center undergoes evaluation for potential clinical trial participation. According to Jonas Fontenot, PhD, MBA, president and chief executive officer, Mary Bird Perkins, the focus is on delivering leading-edge technologies and treatment options that are tailored to the needs of cancer patients, including phase 1 trials.

Fontenot emphasizes, “Mary Bird Perkins was founded by residents of Louisiana to provide access to leading cancer therapies and technologies. Our team continues to set the standard for high-quality cancer care and research throughout the region. The phase 1 clinical trials program being developed by Dr. Lin and his team marks the latest milestone in our commitment to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer.”

According to Lin, “With these new offerings, we’re presenting a new way to provide patients with additional tools to treat and fight cancer. We see this as an important next step in bringing more opportunities to more patients in the region.”

For more information on Mary Bird Perkins’ clinical research program, please call (225) 215-1375.

About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for more than 50 years. The cancer care organization provides care at 10 centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Gonzales, Hammond, Houma, Opelousas, Slidell, and Natchez, Mississippi, and its service area encompasses southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi regions. Mary Bird Perkins has a strategic affiliation with OneOncology and the largest radiation and medical oncology groups from across the area including exclusive partnerships with Southeastern Louisiana Radiation Oncology Group, which provides radiation therapy throughout Mary Bird Perkins’ service areas, Northshore Oncology Associates, serving St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, specifically the communities of Covington and Slidell and Louisiana Hematology Oncology Associates, which services the Greater Baton Rouge area. For more information, please visit