Cleveland, OH,
12:24 PM

MetroHealth Forms Its Center for Cancer Research, Dedicated to Delivering Cutting-Edge Care to Everyone

Bingcheng Wang, PhD, Director of the Division of Cancer Biology in the Department of Medicine and Director of Basic Sciences in the MetroHealth Research Institute, has assembled an impressive team of cancer researchers who are bringing cutting-edge care to The MetroHealth System and its hundreds of thousands of patients.

William Tse, MD, is training blood cells to become cancer-killing CAR T cells so patients can beat cancer without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

Khalid Sossey-Alaoui, PhD, is working to understand why triple-negative breast cancer occurs much more often in African-American women so he can help end the dreaded disease.

Zhisan Wang, MD, PhD, is searching for the biological signal in patients’ bodies that tell doctors lung cancer is there – long before it becomes deadly.

They are four of eight nationally and internationally recognized researchers forming a new cancer research team in Cleveland focused on more than curing one of the most feared diseases. The team, which is backed by millions of dollars in support and grants and dozens of research assistants, will also focus on ending the racial, ethnic, social and economic inequities that impact cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“We’re doing this for the patients we serve, to ensure that they have the latest advances in cancer care and that they are able to participate in cutting-edge clinical trials in cancer care," says Bernard Boulanger, MD, MetroHealth Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer. Clinical trials give patients access to newly discovered medical testing and treatments before they’re available to the public.

More patient diversity – to improve outcomes for all patients – has been a goal in cancer research for years.

“A lot of people can’t get to the most advanced cancer care because they don’t have the assets to do that,” says Dr. Tse, Chief of Hematology and Oncology at MetroHealth.

MetroHealth’s location would make that care available to a large, diverse population and, in many cases, to patients who haven’t had access in the past, he says.

“MetroHealth plays a big role in caring for the underserved throughout the Cleveland area,” says Dr. Bingcheng Wang. “And they are impacted differently by cancer including having a higher chance of being diagnosed with aggressive forms of breast and prostate cancer. Because of that, MetroHealth is uniquely positioned to contribute to the understanding of racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”

“Fundamental to caring for our cancer patients is the continuous striving for better outcomes for all of them,” says Benjamin Li, MD, Director of MetroHealth’s Cancer Center. “Investment by MetroHealth in discovering new knowledge and better treatments for our cancer patients is our commitment to improving cancer outcomes for our community.”

Other researchers on the MetroHealth team are:

  • Donald D. Anthony, MD, PhD, who’s working with University Hospitals researcher David Wald, MD, PhD, to turn NK cells – a form of white blood cells that fight invaders like infection or cancer – into an off-the-shelf treatment for cancer, especially those types that are difficult to treat.
  • Xiaonan Han, PhD, whose team is delving into what goes wrong in gut stem cells of children who develop Crohn’s and other chronic gastrointestinal inflammation that can lead to colon cancers as the children grow to adulthood. Their goal is to find a way to prevent those inflammation-induced cancer cells from traveling to other organs.
  • Ashwini Sehgal, MD, working with MetroHealth Physiatrist Richard Wilson, MD, is studying whether a special type of deep-tissue massage can help women recovering from breast cancer surgery avoid severe and persistent pain and limited use of their shoulders.
  • Chengfeng Yang, PhD, and his team are researching heavy metals, a common group of pollutants in the environment, and how they affect lung cancer, in the hopes of finding new ways to treat it. He’s also studying what causes triple-negative breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body and developing therapies to slow that process.

All of these MetroHealth-based investigators in cancer research are – or are becoming – full members of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and add significant value to the research programs of the center.

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of only 51 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States designated by the National Cancer Institute.

About The MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers For more information, visit