Cancer Research

Finding New Ways to Detect and Treat Cancer

At Sanford Health, the best medical minds work together for you. Using innovative science, we’re leading the way to breakthroughs that will change cancer care for generations to come.

We’re exploring better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, treat and improve patients’ quality of life during and after cancer.


Why are Cancer Clinical Trials Important?

Clinical trials are studies that evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a possible treatment or prevention technique. Every cancer treatment and medication available today was once part of a clinical trial. Participating in research today shapes the future of care tomorrow.

Patients like you can make a difference by enrolling in a clinical trial or research study. Through research, we discover new treatments, cures and ways to help patients enjoy a higher quality of life.

Learn More About Clinical Trials


Cancer Research and Care at Sanford Health

Sanford Health offers cancer clinical trials in six cities across the upper Midwest. We’re based in Sioux Falls, Fargo, Bismarck, Bemidji, Worthington and Thief River Falls.

We’re the only institute in the Dakotas to offer access to Phase 1 clinical trials. Our program gives participants access to some of the newest, most innovative treatments.

Choose Sanford Health for cancer care because:

  • We use a multidisciplinary approach. We use our combined experience to give you better care. When first diagnosed, your provider presents your case to a variety of specialists at cancer-specific tumor boards. The tumor board reviews your diagnosis and collaborates on your best plan forward, providing you with a room full of expert opinions. Each case is also screened for clinical trial eligibility and the potential for research involvement. Learn more about tumor boards
  • You’ll partner with a research coordinator. A research coordinator collaborates with your providers and helps you navigate available research projects based on your genetics and cancer type.
  • We’re an award-winning program. Our team has been recognized by multiple organizations for our commitment to care, especially through our clinical trials program.
  • We’ve been an NCI-Sponsored Clinical Research Site since the early 1980s. Sanford Health is one of 34 community programs. At any given time, we have around 93 clinical trials open for patient enrollment.

Find a Sanford Health cancer care provider near you.

Learn More

Cancer Research FAQ

What is a cancer clinical trial?

A cancer clinical trial (also called a research study or research trial) is a scientific study where participants help doctors find ways to improve cancer care. Research studies aim to find better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat cancer while improving quality of life for cancer patients. These trials are the fastest and safest way to find new cancer treatments and better the health of cancer patients. The best treatments we have today were once part of a clinical trial.

Who can participate in a clinical trial?

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements can participate in a clinical trial. Eligibility requirements may include age, gender, health history and current medications. Patients involved in clinical research are volunteers and can leave the study at any time. Through the informed consent process, we make our participants aware of the risks and benefits of taking part in a specific study before enrolling.

Why should I participate in a clinical trial?

People who participate in clinical trials and other cancer research initiatives:

  • Could get access to promising new treatments that may not yet be available to the public
  • Play an active role in their health care
  • Help researchers and doctors find new or better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose or treat cancer
  • Help find new treatments to improve quality of life for cancer patients
  • Are assigned to a clinical research team, which will offer support and guidance throughout the research process and offer an additional level of care

Is there a chance I’d receive a placebo during a cancer clinical trial?

Placebos are used in select clinical trials. They’re used when researchers are trying to prove that adding a new treatment in addition to current treatments is more effective than the current treatments alone. One way they do this is by providing all participants with the standard of care (the current best treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation) plus the new treatment or providing some participants with the standard of care and a placebo.

Either way, as a patient, you receive the best current treatments we have to offer through the standard of care. Should the clinical study contain a placebo, we’re required by law to inform you before you join.

Awards and Recognition

Meet Our Investigators

South Dakota

Sioux Falls

Maria Bell, MD
Gynecology

Jonathan Bleeker, MD
Gastrointestinal, Precision Oncology 

Keely Hack, MD
Breast

Michele Lohr, MD
Radiation Oncology

Michelle Janania Martinez, MD
Hematology

Miroslaw Mazurczak, MD
Breast, CNS, NCORP

Steve McGraw, MD
Radiation Oncology

Brianna Murphy, DO
Pediatrics

Catherine Nelson, DO
Pediatric

Ryan Nowak, MD
Radiation Oncology

Steven Powell, MD
Early Phase, Head and Neck, Lung, Precision Oncology

Amy Sanford, MD
Breast, Lung

Na Smith, MD
Radiation Oncology

Christopher Sumey, MD
Lung, Genitourinary, Precision Oncology

KayeLyn Wagner, MD
Pediatrics

Allison Watson, MD
Breast

North Dakota

Fargo

A. Abou Zahr, MD
Hematology/Oncology

Daniel Almquist, MD
Hematology and Oncology 

Samuel Anim, MD
Pediatrics

Miran Blanchard, MD
Radiation Oncology

Melanie Chihak, DO
Pediatrics

Jarrett Failing, MD
Melanoma

Anu Gaba, MD
Breast, Precision Oncology 

Louis Geeraerts, MD
Head and Neck

Mark Gitau, MD
Gastrointestinal, Lung, Head and Neck, Precision Oncology, Rare Tumor

Gerald Gross, MD
Hematology/Oncology

Mahendra Gupta, MD
Gynecologic, Lung

Ash Jensen, MD
Radiation Oncology

 

Seth Maliske, MD
Hematology and Oncology

Samuel Milanovich, MD
Pediatrics

Sommer Nurkic, MD
Radiation Oncology

Amit Panwalkar, MD
Breast, Gynecologic, Lung

Preston Steen, MD
Gastrointestinal, NCORP, Genitourinary, Lung 

Andrew Terrell, MD
Head and Neck

Shelby Terstriep, MD
Breast

Matthew Tinguely, MD
Gastrointestinal 

Radhakrishna Vegunta, MD
Hematology/Oncology

Jeff Wiisanen, MD
Hematology/Oncology

Kirk Wyatt, MD
Pediatrics

 

Bismarck

Thandiwe Gray, MD
Hematology/Oncology

Peter Kurniali, MD
Hematology/Oncology

Edward Wos, DO
Hematology/Oncology

Minnesota

Bemidji 

Elie Chalhoub, MD
Hematology/Oncology

Jonathan Sande, MD
Hematology/Oncology

Thief River Falls

Amit Panwalkar, MD
Breast, Gynecologic, Lung

Worthington

Jonathan Bleeker, MD
Gastrointestinal, Precision Oncology

Keely Hack, MD
Breast

Miroslaw Mazurczak, MD
Breast, CNS, NCORP