Clinical Trials

New clinical trials network is funded in partnership with the State of Minnesota

Minnesotans living in rural areas throughout greater Minnesota will soon have better access to new cancer treatments and enhanced care delivery, thanks to a new state-funded partnership between University of Minnesota and the state’s major health and research systems.

As part of the Minnesota Discovery Research and InnoVation (MnDRIVE) partnership with the State of Minnesota, the University is launching the Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN), with multiple locations across the state.

“This is an innovative and important program that we are excited to be a part of,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, executive director of The Hormel Institute. “It helps us achieve our goal which is to to take answers to cancer that we’re discovering through research to benefit and help more people through innovative clinical trials. Our quest is to accelerate the process from research discoveries to care that protects and promotes health and longevity.”

Led by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, the goal of MNCCTN  is to improve cancer outcomes for all Minnesotans through greater access to cancer clinical trials in prevention, treatment, and survivorship. These trials will originate from Minnesota’s two NIC-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, the Masonic Cancer Center and Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, along with The Hormel Institute in Austin.

“This MnDRIVE initiative fuels research that addresses a pressing challenge—access to world-class cancer care for Minnesotans in every corner of our state,” said University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler. “We are grateful for the State of Minnesota’s support for the University’s work to advance innovative and quality healthcare for Minnesotans.”

Nearly half of all Minnesotans will be diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening cancer during their lifetime; but 56 percent of Minnesotans have fewer options for treatment because they live more than 30 miles from a hospital or clinic that offers access to clinical trials. By bringing cancer clinical trials to those living in Greater Minnesota, the MNCCTN will increase access to potentially lifesaving and life-changing therapies and treatments, strengthen healthcare systems, create more equitable access to care, and could improve cancer outcomes throughout the state.

“Early cancer screening and world-class care saved my life,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “The $8 million in new MnDRIVE funding secured last session will help ensure greater access to new cancer treatments and enhanced care for patients across Minnesota.”

“It was an honor to serve as the chief author of legislation to support this network,” said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls. “As the higher education chairman in the House, I am pleased to see the U of M take the lead on such an important project. I look forward to seeing this endeavor bring positive results in cancer treatments and care delivery.”

The MNCCTN is a collaboration between the Masonic Cancer Center, Essentia Health Community Oncology Research Program, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Fairview Health System, Sanford Community Oncology Program of the North Central Plains, Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium and The Hormel Institute. In all, there will be 15 new locations across Minnesota that will participate in MNCCTN cancer clinical trials in the first year of the program with additional sites across the state to be added in the subsequent years.

The first 18 locations across Minnesota are: Aitkin, Albert Lea, Austin, Cambridge, Deer River, Detroit Lakes, Fosston, Grand Rapids, Hastings, Hibbing, Mankato, Monticello, Park Rapids, Princeton, Thief River Falls, Virginia and Worthington. Hibbing will host two locations—one through Fairview and the other through Essentia Health. There are plans to increase the number of locations in future years, making it that much easier for physicians to find an appropriate trial for their patients and making it more convenient and timely for the patients to participate.

The MNCCTN is led by Senior Manager, Marie L. Rahne, MBA, who will lead the administrative efforts of the MNCCTN. Dr. Charles Loprinzi, a medical oncologist with Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, is the newly appointed MNCCTN medical director. The MNCCTN team will oversee the administrative, clinical, and research aspects that are integral to the launch of a statewide cancer clinical trials network.

For more information about the MNCCTN visit:

About the Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network
The Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN) is a cancer clinical trials network with locations across Minnesota, funded by the Minnesota legislature as a part of the University of Minnesota’s overall MnDRIVE Strategic Investment Request. Led by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, MNCCTN partner organizations aim to improve cancer outcomes for all Minnesotans through greater access to cancer clinical trials in prevention and treatment.

About the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
The Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota is a Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute. For more than 25 years, researchers, educators and care providers have worked to discover the causes, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and cancer-related disease. Learn more at

About The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota

The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota is a leading cancer research department of UMN and part of the Masonic Cancer Center, an NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Collaborative research partners with Mayo Clinic, Zhengzhou University, MD Anderson, Columbia University, University of Arizona and more renowned centers worldwide, The Hormel Institute tripled in size in 2008 and again doubled in size in 2016.  Currently the faculty and staff are comprised of 130 leading cancer research scientists and 14 cancer research sections.  Over the next few years, The Hormel Institute UMN will add another 130 new faculty and staff jobs as part of its expansion as it continues to perform world-class research in the quest to prevent and control cancer.