Jay Monahan Center for
Gastrointestinal Health Opens
The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal
Health opened at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell
Medical Center. Named in honor of the late husband of NBC
co-anchor Katie Couric, who died at the age of 42 of colon
cancer, the center will provide comprehensive therapeutic,
preventive screening and family support by a multidisciplinary
team of dedicated specialists. Dr. Mark Pochapin, director
of the center, stated that the center was meant to be "a model of health care delivery
that focuses on the individual rather than just on the disease" involving
also application of genetics, nutrition and psychosocial health
in the patient's care. He said that we want to educate everybody
about how important it is to screen for colon cancer. It is
one of the most preventable cancers and curable if caught early.
However, "it still remains the number two cause of cancer
deaths in the US", said Dr. Pochapin.
Funding for the Center was provided through efforts of Katie
Couric, who founded the Entertainment Industry Foundation's
National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (EIF's NCCRA).
Ms. Couric stated that the mission of the Alliance is to increase
awareness of colorectal cancer, develop better diagnostic techniques
and to seek better treatment options for the disease. The Alliance
has raised over 20 million dollars so far to fund research
by scientists in various institutions. Areas under investigation
include DNA stool testing, a technique that may be useful in
noninvasive screening for colorectal cancer, and genetic research.
Katie Couric has been instrumental
in raising the public awareness of colon cancer. She underwent
a colonoscopy on national TV. Since then, colonoscopy screening
has increased by almost 20%. This increase has been coined "the Couric effect",
which may have already saved countless lives.
Dr. Herbert Pardes, President and
CEO of New York Presbyterian Hospital said, "Katie Couric
converted a personal tragedy into something which is of extraordinary
positive benefit to a large number of people. Her magic and
the high regard to which she is held add a tremendous amount
to our ability to get that message out. A lot of lives are
going to be saved and a lot of people better treated as a
result of that."
On a personal note, I would like to add what an exemplary
caring person Katie Couric is. I recently ran into Katie while
we were in a neighborhood pharmacy. An elderly woman was sobbing
while waiting for a prescription to be filled. Katie immediately
went over to the woman and tried to comfort her. The woman,
recently moved to New York, was sobbing because her husband
was sick and because she recently received chemotherapy for
a malignancy. Katie wrote her own cell phone number and the
name Katie on a slip of paper and told the woman to call if
she needed help.#
Dr. Herman Rosen is clinical professor of medicine at Weill
Medical College of Cornell University.