Remembering Dr. Jane Weeks’ Pioneering Work and NCCN’s Outcomes Research Initiative

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Jane Carrie Weeks, MD, MSc

Jane Carrie Weeks, MD, MSc, a prominent researcher at Dana-Farber Cancer Center, died of cancer on September 10, 2013, at the age of 61. At the time of her death, Dr. Weeks was Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, Director of the McGraw/Patterson Center for Population Sciences, and Chief of the Division of Population Sciences in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber.

In 1995, Dr. Weeks founded Dana-Farber’s Center for Outcomes and Policy Research, which fosters cross-disciplinary health services research in cancer, and in 2001 Dr. Weeks helped create Dana-Farber’s Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities (IECD). She was also somewhat ahead of her time in appreciating the need to add “value” to the clinical care continuum, and she therefore pioneered comparative effectiveness research and maintained that clinicians should know a thing or two about cost-effectiveness as well.

Dr. Weeks’ groundbreaking work in these fields will have a long-lasting impact on cancer care, said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the NCCN. Although outcomes research is a heady discipline of macroanalysis and statistics, it all boils down to delivering better and more equitable care for patients with cancer, taking into consideration their experiences and preferences. This area of work, therefore, dovetails completely with the NCCN’s patient-centered mission, according to
Dr. Carlson.

Dr. Carlson reflected on Dr. Weeks’ substantial contribution to the NCCN. “One of the early programs was an NCCN outcomes database. It was a very robust database of patient information in terms of demographics, disease characteristics, treatments, and so forth from participating NCCN institutions. There were well over 100,000 patients in it,” he said. “It was an incredible source of information for research purposes and also for producing feedback about compliance, to our member institutions. That program existed because Jane spearheaded it.”

The database has been inactive for a while, but there are plans to “resurrect it,” Dr. Carlson added. “It would have been great to have Jane here for that endeavor.” ■




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