Cancer Center Strategic Objectives

Our Cancer Center Strategic Plan is backed by a strong administration and institutional commitment, thoughtful resource planning, and incredible philanthropic support made possible by many generous donors.

Strategic Investments

We’re taking on cancer’s toughest challenges by making strategic investments in five key areas where we’re strong and growing in expertise. 

Cancer Disparities

Addressing Persistent Health Disparities

As the only cancer center within an academic health network in eastern Wisconsin, we have a responsibility to invest in collaborative work with our communities, departments, and institutes to understand and address the health disparities that persist across various racial, ethnic, and geographic populations in our catchment area.

By working with community stakeholders to identify needs and address those needs through our scientific research and community outreach and engagement programs, we will reduce the cancer burden among those most impacted.

Our investigators are examining how policies related to health care access, housing, and tobacco use (among other factors) impact cancer outcomes; in addition to researchers who are actively working with members of the community to better understand how health behaviors affect cancer prevention, treatment response, and survivorship.

Precision Oncology

Combining Genomic Sciences and Disparities Research to Save Lives

The ultimate fulfillment of precision oncology is to deliver the most effective cancer treatment for a patient’s unique cancer, at a hyper-precise dose and at the right time to maximize survival and quality of life. This level of excellence in precision medicine is especially important for patients diagnosed with rare and aggressive cancers, which collectively make up nearly a quarter of all cancer diagnoses.

Our focus and investment in precision oncology will bring together investigators across the research continuum and with expertise in cancer genomics and epigenomics to focus on translating discoveries to in-house clinical trials tailored to the unique needs of our patient population.


Unleashing the Body’s Immune System to Fight Cancer

Immunotherapy activates or suppresses targeted immune cells to fight cancer while disabling mechanisms that tumor cells employ to inhibit an immune response. While immunotherapies show exciting promise, particularly in leukemias and myeloma, the underlying biology of why these treatments work in some patients and fail in others remains to be understood.

In response, the MCW Cancer Center and Center for Immunology have forged a cutting-edge collaboration that harnesses recent advancements in immunotherapy to treat aggressive cancers, and studies how to improve the efficacy of these treatments for more patients.

This investment in immuno-oncology enables our physicians and scientists to build on the work already done to successfully manufacture CAR T-cell therapy in-house for patients, with the knowledge immunotherapy could be a future treatment against solid tumors.

Cancer Metabolism

Forging a Path to Earlier Diagnoses and Individualized Treatments

The MCW Cancer Center is poised to develop new and effective radiotracers to visualize rare, hard-to-access cancers and target compromised cells at the onset of disease. The dual advantage of both visualizing and targeting cancer-specific metabolites helps us fight cancer while protecting healthy cells, particularly in tissues like the brain where cell regeneration does not exist.

Investment in this level of insight has the potential to be life-changing for patients suffering from rare, aggressive, and hidden cancers.

Structural Biology

Pursuing a New Era of Drug Discovery

Cancer researchers at MCW are remarkably good at using chemical and structural biology to identify new pathways for the treatment of cancer. Their discoveries are leading to pivotal new drugs that interfere with the biological function cancer cells rely on to grow and spread. This expertise enables us to deliver more personalized, effective, and less toxic therapies that can be tailored or combined to treat a patient’s cancer.

Leveraging MCW’s vast clinical trial portfolio and diverse patient population, we’ve been able to spur new collaborations with other academic medical centers that have garnered more than 1,800 participants in clinical trials where new therapies are first made available to patients.

Further focus on the growth of the structural biology field will enable our Cancer Center to translate high-impact discovery into new therapeutic options, including structure-based drug developments with the potential to improve health outcomes for Wisconsin patients.