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GI Cancer Research

The future of cancer care starts in clinical laboratories. At the Abramson Cancer Center, our physicians and scientists pursue exciting research in gastrointestinal (GI) cancer care.

We’re scrutinizing GI cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment from every angle. Our robust research program gives you early access to cutting-edge therapies through clinical trials, expanding your treatment options.

GI Cancer Research: The Abramson Cancer Center Advantage

Penn Medicine has an impressive track record of cancer research discoveries. We investigate leading-edge targeted therapy, immunotherapy and other new treatments to ensure you receive the best possible care.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Exceptional NCI status: The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has recognized the Abramson Cancer Center as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for the past 40 years. This designation highlights our unwavering commitment to the highest standards in cancer care and research. Learn more about our NCI designation and awards and accolades.
  • Expansive reach: Penn’s GI Cancer Research Program stands as one of the nation’s largest cancer research centers dedicated to gastrointestinal cancers. Hundreds of Penn doctors and scientists collaborate to advance GI cancer care.
  • Pioneering research: Our team has pioneered notable advancements in cancer immunotherapy, cancer genetics and early detection. We push the boundaries of what’s possible in our steadfast commitment to improve lives and cure cancer.
  • Hope for all stages: A clinical trial may offer you more choices. We manage and participate in clinical trials for all types and stages of GI cancer, including trials for patients who are often considered ineligible at other centers.
  • Exceptional quality and safety: Our program’s breadth means we have the team and specialized infrastructure necessary to monitor your health and ensure your safety. At the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, we have a dedicated infusion suite for patients receiving the most novel medications.

GI Cancer Research Spotlight

Our efforts span the full spectrum of cancer research, including basic science that seeks to understand cancer at a fundamental level and all phases of clinical trials.

Cancer Immunotherapy Research

Cancer immunotherapies use specially formulated medicines to reprogram T cells and boost your body’s immune system and natural cancer-fighting abilities. Penn researchers are behind breakthrough discoveries such as CAR-T cell immunotherapy, the first FDA-approved gene therapy. We lead the world in our continued efforts to explore immunotherapy’s potential to treat GI cancers, including CAR T-cell therapy for pancreatic cancer.

Molecular Cancer Research

At the Center for Personalized Diagnostics, our researchers study cancer cells at a genetic and molecular level. Insights into cancer’s DNA put us one step closer to the earliest possible detection and treatment. Penn scientists work side-by-side with our GI cancer specialists to identify new targets for therapy and match you with more precise treatments with fewer side effects.

Hereditary Cancer Research

A small percentage of GI cancers are caused by gene mutations that run in families. Our Gastrointestinal Cancer Genetics Program provides comprehensive cancer risk evaluation, genetic counseling and genetic testing. We help people at high risk for hereditary gastrointestinal cancer (such as pancreatic cancer, colon cancer or gastric cancer) protect their health.

Neuroendocrine Cancer Research

Neuroendocrine tumors are rare tumors that can occur in the GI tract. They resemble GI cancers but are treated very differently. Our interdisciplinary group of neuroendocrine researchers includes national experts in the field.

A Penn-run trial led to the first nonsurgical treatment for two neuroendocrine tumors, pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. We continue to pursue noteworthy advances to improve treatment options for these rare tumors.

Pancreatic Cancer Research

Physician–scientists at Penn Medicine’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Center are fighting to change what it means to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Our team is dedicated to establishing new and novel therapies for pancreatic cancer, including studying how to improve screening methods for earlier detection of pancreatic tumors.

At the same time, we work to better understand why pancreatic cancer cells behave the way they do and develop more effective treatments. We participate in leading clinical trials for pancreatic cancer, so you have more options in your care.

Contact a Clinical Trial Navigator

To speak with a clinical trial navigator, call 855-216-0098 Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm or request a contact.