We westerners should be proud and excited to have one of our own chosen as the new head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Monica Bertagnolli from Wyoming has been named. She is at Harvard now but is a self-described "ranch girl from Wyoming." It is great to have the first woman in that position (appropriate for the Equality State) who is also a world-respected scientist, a surgeon, a clinician who actually cares for patients, a doctor sympathetic to the challenges of rural medicine, and a really nice person.
Why are we interested in the NCI in Montana? Because we have had access to their state-of-the-art research since 1977. Warren Bowman and Don Twito at the Billings Clinic and Neel Hammond at St. Vincent's started it and by 1983 there was a collaborative effort with both hospitals. By the early '90s we had the Montana Cancer Consortium involving the whole state as well as parts of Wyoming and Idaho. There is other cancer research also, but the NCI experimental studies (over 100 available here) have ensured our cancer patients treated now have a chance to live longer and better than in the past.
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