The Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute — Oncology Center in Warsaw with its branches in Cracow and Gliwice conduct research on the causes of cancer and the mechanisms by which this develops.

In particular:

  • Studies on the mechanisms responsible for cancer predisposition that include:
  • The role of epigenetics in carcinogenesis.
  • The role of Micro-RNA (miRNA) in carcinogenesis.
  • New therapeutic targets for anti-tumour therapies.
  • Carrier status of known genes predisposing to cancers of the breast, thyroid, lungs and the large bowel (colorectal).
  • Population-based assessments (stratification of genetically at-risk groups and the incidence of cancer syndromes).
  • Creating animal (murine) models for the testing of new target drugs.
  • Studies on exploiting molecular markers for:
  • Diagnosing cancer, especially lymphomas, soft tissue sarcomas, gliomas, meningioma and cancers of the lungs, large bowel, ovaries and vulva.
  • Detecting tumorous cells present in body fluids.
  • Developing a genetic profile of laboratory animals reared and intended for animal modelling.

Some of these studies, initiated and coordinated by the Oncology Center, are also conducted as multi-center projects as follows:

  • Studies on dendritic and regulatory (Treg) cellular function in cancer patients as well as on the regeneration kinetics of these cells following chemotherapy along with their use in clinical trials of tumour immunotherapies.
  • Investigating the role of cytokines in tumour pathogenesis and whether measurement of their serum concentrations can act as markers of tumour progression, the dynamics of tumour development and tumour response to treatment.
  • Studying the role of tumour cells possessing stem cell features.
  • Research on the processes of neoangiogenesis and metastases.

Most of this work is jointly undertaken by the Departments of Fundamental/Basic Research and the Oncology Center Clinics, together with other research centers from Poland and abroad.

In parallel, the Institute also runs research and development on all aspects of cancer disease control along with delivering medical healthcare services that assure highly specialist diagnostics, therapies and rehabilitation for cancer patients. Clinics at the Oncology Center in all provide modern radiotherapy facilities, diagnostic departments and specialist clinics. The departments at the Oncology Center also undertake multi-center-based prospective clinical studies which include those from both home and abroad. In the main, these studies assess the value of combination and adjuvant/supportive treatments together with the quality of life in patients suffering from cancers of the breast, lungs, gastro-intestinal tract, renal tract, lymphatic system, soft tissue sarcoma and skin melanoma. The Oncology Center is likewise the leading institution for both improving existing radiotherapy methods and developing new ones, as well as for performing research in clinical radiobiology. Over many years it has also been, and continues to be, a leader in epidemiological studies on cancer (including using molecular markers of carcinogen exposure). In addition, the Center operates both the National and Warsaw Cancer Registries and has also established both the GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumours) and bone cancer registries.

 

   Our history — 85 years of tradition

 An independent Poland should have its own Radium Institute

Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Chicago 1921

A vital milestone in the development of modern oncology in Poland was the establishment of the Radium Institute in Warsaw. This was initiated by Maria Skłodowska-Curie during her visit to Warsaw in 1921. In that year, (only 3 years post-World War I and when Poland regained independence), Maria Skłodowska-Curie also visited the United States to raise funds for her Radium Institute in Paris. Already back then, she expressed her strong determination to create a Radium Institute in Poland. Funds for building and for the required equipment were raised by the National Donation Committee in Poland and from Polish communities worldwide; primarily in the United States, Canada and South Africa. The American journalist, editor and socialite, Mrs. William B. Meloney (Missy), played a key role in organizing a fund drive to buy radium for Maria Curie. During her second American tour in 1929 Maria obtained the money to purchase radium for the Radium Institute in Warsaw. President Herbert Hoover welcomed her to the White House and presented her with the bank draft funded by American women and the Polish Community.

The ceremony of laying the foundation stone in 1925 was attended by Maria Skłodowska-Curie and she insisted that the Institute integrate both clinical and research departments because their close collaboration would be indispensable for the modern treatment of cancer. The 120 bed Institute comprised four buildings and was completed in 1932. At the start, it had five X-ray machines and 1 gram of radium was donated by Maria Skłodowska-Curie, who also attended the Opening Ceremony. This was her last visit to Poland.

In Poland, the Radium Institute soon became the leading cancer center for clinical work, basic research and teaching. During World War II all scientific activities ceased, however clinical work continued. In 1944, the building was burned down by the Nazis with patients and some members of the hospital staff being murdered. The Institute was rebuilt after the war and resumed its activities in 1947. A bronze statue to Maria still stands to this day in the grounds of the Wawelska Street buildings, dating from pre-World War II, with  bullet holes clearly visible from when the Nazis used the statue for target practice.

 

In 1951, the Council of Ministers issued their regulation for merging the Radium Institute in Warsaw with the Institute of Oncology in Cracow and the Public Anti-Cancer Institute in Gliwice, thereby establishing the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Institute of Oncology with branches in Cracow and Gliwice along with granting its status as a research institute. In 1952, the first post-war Program for Combating Cancer was established, followed by establishing the Central Cancer Registry in 1953. The Institute was also the coordinator of the subsequent government Program for combating cancer during 1976–1990. The leading investment was building a new headquarters in Ursynów.

The present name: Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute — Oncology Center was given in 1984. The Institute is the leading comprehensive cancer center in Poland and the primary government research institution devoted solely to oncology.

 

Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute — Oncology Center

 The Warsaw site is the biggest comprehensive cancer center in Poland which provides 741 patient beds and employs 437 doctors. The best oncological staff available in Poland ensure that effective cancer treatment is delivered using highly specialized procedures and therapies.

The clinical section is located in a separate 10-floor building. Every floor forms a separate department with surgical, radiotherapy and chemotherapy wards. Each department provides the full range of combined treatment in a given field. This system offers unique clinical and research opportunities. Other buildings contain basic science and research departments, a library, conference rooms and several other teaching facilities. The Center serves as a modern comprehensive oncological institute, conducting basic research, clinical trials, postgraduate and highly specialized training and provides the most up-to-date diagnostic and therapeutic facilities.

The clinical building comprises 13 departments : Department of Bone/Soft Tissue Sarcoma and Melanoma, Department of Central Nervous System Tumours, Department of  Gynaecological Oncology, Department of  Urological Cancer, Department of Lung & Chest Cancer, Department of Brest Cancer & Reconstructive Surgery,  Department of Lymphoma,  Department of Gastrointestinal Cancer, Department of Head & Neck Cancer, Department of  Endocrine Cancer & Nuclear Medicine, Department of Cancer & Cardio-Oncology Diagnostics; Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy and Department of Oncological Surgery and Neuroendocrine Tumors.

In addition, there are Day Care Centers, Outpatient Clinics and the Cancer Prevention Center; the latter providing counseling services for cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, skin cancer, genetic counseling and smoking cessation. Within all these areas, several screening programmes are conducted which, amongst others, cover colorectal and cervical cancer. The MSCI is also a specialist center for scientific and research excellence, possessing state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

Furthermore, the Center for Research and Development has been established, in which there is an  Early-Phase Clinical Trials Unit; the first such development center in Poland to undertake pre-clinical and clinical studies. This center has a unique scientific and research infrastructure as well as providing a fertile ecosystem for innovation, thereby giving thousands of patients future hope for successful treatment outcomes.

 

MSCI in Warsaw provides:

  • Vast experience in conducting clinical trials.
  • A multidisciplinary approach; applying highly specialized procedures (70% of patients receive combined treatment).
  • Complex diagnostic facilities, including molecular biology, genetics and proteomics.
  • Monitoring any complications and unwanted side effects of treatment.
  • Direct clinical application of ongoing research.
  • Molecular monitoring of treatment outcomes.
  • A unique structure of organ-orientated clinical departments.
  • Close collaboration with on-site basic science departments.
  • The biggest repository of data on cancer patients in the country.
  • Immediate access to the central Polish Cancer Registry.
  • A newly opened Education and Conference Center.
  • The most modern Cancer Prevention Center in Poland.

 Recent developments:

  • An outpatient chemotherapy ward (50 beds, c. 150 procedures daily).
  • A fully modernized Department of Pathology with new equipment.
  • A new Education and Conference Center.
  • A fully reorganized Department of Diagnostic Imaging.
  • ONKOSYS — a comprehensive IT platform for cancer research.
  • The Center for Research and Development
  • The Early-Phase Clinical Trials Unit
  • Hyperthermia Department

 

The Cancer Prevention Center 

This delivers a range of services for learning on how to reduce cancer risk or for early detection of cancer; when it’s most treatable. Based on the principle that prevention is better than cure, it also provides a number of preventive services in specialist outpatient clinics that aim to prevent cancer and the consequences of the disease through its early detection and treatment. The Cancer Prevention Center invites one to a modernly designed building, equipped with the best medical equipment purchased from EU funds. All consultations are conducted in spacious rooms, in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Highly qualified staff understand the concerns of preventive testing and ensure an individual approach in a friendly environment. The Center offers free preventive care cancer screening services for the most common cancers ie. of the breast, cervix, colorectum and skin . The Cancer Prevention Center is additionally involved in many international projects, e.g. the Nordic-European Initiative on Colorectal Cancer, European Polyp Surveillance Trial and Era-NET Transcan.

 

The Center for Research and Development

The Center for Research and Development is responsible for organising and coordinating research projects in the field of oncology with the aim of implementing research findings in clinical practice. The projects conducted by The Center for Research and Development concern mainly preclinical studies, early-phase clinical studies and other research and implementation projects in the field of oncology. The Center for Research is also initiating participation by the MSCI in national and international research programs as well as obtaining funds to conduct scientific studies using the unit’s research infrastructure.

The Center for Research and Development supports the training of doctors to become highly qualified specialists, whose participation in scientific research enables the development of expertise on a global scale as well as the publication of research findings in renowned journals. Polish researchers can actively participate in all stages of preclinical and clinical trials related to the development of new cancer drugs. By working with the best scientists in the world, we are building the capacity to create innovative medicines in Poland which will serve our patients as well as our country’s economy. The Center for Research and Development is governed by its Council, which is composed of representatives of the MSCI and Roche Polska. The Center for Research and Development is open to cooperation with various scientific, research and commercial institutions as well as drug manufacturers from Poland and abroad.

 

The Early-Phase Clinical Trials Unit

One of unmet needs in Central-Eastern Europe is lack of well-established networks for early drugs development in oncology. Participation in clinical trials may offer significant benefits to cancer patients, since they will get access to some, potentially breakthrough therapies, which might improve their overall prognosis.

MSCI is recognized as a centre with high performance standards in industry-sponsored clinical trials, and has already started to build the competences and partnerships between academia and biotech companies in the area of early-phase clinical testing of innovative medicines.

Newly opened the Early-Phase Clinical Trials Unit (EPU) at MSCI is solely devoted to oncology and is the first such facility in Poland. Based on international recommendations, EPU team has the ability to conduct a variety of phase I–II clinical studies, such as: the First-in-Human, proof of concept, dose tolerance/escalation, bioavailability/bioequivalence, dose proportionality, absolute bioavailability, food/drug interaction, and drug/drug interaction trials. The most important features of EPU include: physicians and nurses experienced in conducting oncological clinical trials, 24-hour emergency care team with ICU support, a high medical staff/bed ratio, sampling room, sample processing laboratory, quality assurance, and administrative staff. The highest number of patients treated at MSCI compared to other Polish cancer centers guarantees fast and efficient accrual of early phase trials’ participants. The issue of investigator’ initiated academic clinical trials also in the field of rare cancers is one of the key topics of EPU since MSCI has been recognized and a partner of three European Reference Networks for Rare Cancers (EURACAN, EuroBloodNet and EndoERN). MSCI and EPU take also a part of the Global Academic Programs (GAP) coordinated by MD Anderson’s Sister Institution Network, and works collaboratively on early phase clinical research at the international level based on the Memoranda of Understanding with the University of Newcastle, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, and pharmaceutical industries.

 

  The Education and Conference Center

Education is an important part of the MCSI mission. An integral constituent of the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute and Oncology Center and is the Education and Conference Center. It consists of a spacious and versatile auditorium with theatre style seating arrangements in a newly revitalized building which can accommodate up to 280 guests. Together with four smaller configurable lecture halls, it can accommodate up to 500 people at the same time. Each is fitted out with sophisticated modern multimedia equipment, including screens, projectors, laptops, audio systems and Internet access. The premises are all air-conditioned, elegantly furnished and fully equipped to host both large and small events such as briefings, scientific meetings and conferences. Furthermore, the Education and Conference Center has a spacious entrance foyer and lobby, perfect for coffee breaks. It is also very conveniently located; only 7 km from the international Warsaw Chopin Airport.