Urological Research and Care, Powered by Giving


Philanthropic support plays a pivotal role in advancing urology research and care at NorthShore’s John and Carol Walter Center for Urological Health. Building on transformational giving in 2011, many generous donors have since helped NorthShore create a destination for personalized urological care that’s informed and driven by scientific discovery and led by Urology Division Chief and Ronald L. Chez Family and Richard Melman Family Chair of Prostate Cancer Brian T. Helfand, MD, PhD.

Dr. Helfand talked with Philanthropy Perspectives about the importance of philanthropy and the latest in urological care and research at NorthShore.

Q: How has philanthropy supported urological care at NorthShore?

A: It really all starts with philanthropy. Donors often drive novel research and important initiatives like the recently developed test to assess an individual’s genetic risk in relation to a number of more common cancers, including urologic cancers. The research we’re doing in turn improves the care we provide to patients, leading to better clinical outcomes and a better quality of life for those we’re privileged to serve. It’s all interconnected, and our patients benefit today from the new technology and advances made possible through philanthropic support.

Q: What are some of the latest advancements in personalized medicine for urology patients?

A: Development of the AmbryScore for prostate cancer risk, the first test of its kind offered to the general public, now allows physicians to determine appropriate screening for individual men based on their genetic profile. The new Genetic Risk Score test developed by NorthShore researcher Jianfeng Xu, MD, DrPH, Ellrodt-Schweighauser Family Chair of Cancer Genomic Research, helps guide screening and subsequent treatment decisions for localized and advanced disease. This powerful tool is providing real benefits to patients and their families and will ultimately be a steppingstone for development of other genetic risk tests for other areas in urology and beyond.

Q: And how are patients embracing the opportunity to learn about their risk?

A: A lot of men are not as proactive as they could or should be about their health. Having a scientifically validated genetic risk screening available allows us to identify patients at higher risk earlier, advancing preventive and diagnostic measures for earlier detection and better outcomes. As of May, more than 630 NorthShore patients have been screened using the test and are in a position to be proactive about their personal level of risk.

Q: What about other research initiatives underway at NorthShore?

A: Simon Hayward, PhD, the Jean Ruggles Romoser Chair of Cancer Research, is leading exciting work in the area of tumor biology. We’re trying to understand why some prostate cancer tumors become more aggressive. His work has advanced our understanding of tumor cells and their micro-environment, or neighboring cells, with an aim of helping determine future treatment options.

Q: What’s on the horizon for the Walter Center for Urological Health?

A: We’re working to expand our bladder cancer and kidney disease programs, adding personnel to meet the growing needs of the community. In addition, we’re also increasing our efforts in the area of benign prostate disease and urinary symptoms. Collaboration is always on our mind when we’re looking for the best solutions, and we actively partner with industry leaders to develop minimally invasive treatments. In addition to broadening our own understanding, we’re looking to make more men aware that newer treatments, with fewer side effects, are available.

We are so grateful to our generous donors who have embraced our vision and support our ability to continue to offer the best in personalized care for our patients.

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