New Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Health Center To Be Established at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell

The Jay Monahan Center to Provide Unique Approach to the Treatment of All Gastrointestinal Cancers

Oct 15, 2002


The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital today announced plans to establish the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at the Hospital's NewYork Weill Cornell Medical Center site. Opening in early 2004, the Center—providing all services under one roof—will be specifically and comprehensively dedicated to gastrointestinal health, from detection and treatment to education, prevention, and research. The Center is named in honor of Jay Monahan, the late husband of NBC "TODAY" show co-anchor Katie Couric, who died of colon cancer at age 42 in 1998. Since then, Couric has actively worked to raise awareness about colon cancer and has committed—along with the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF)—to help the Hospital raise a substantial portion of the approximately $9 million needed to create the Center.

Vision of Monahan Center

"Our vision for the Center was born out of my discussions with Dr. Mark Pochapin, Jay's gastroenterologist," Couric said. "I discovered during Jay's illness that the journey following a cancer diagnosis is often a traumatic and harrowing one." Searching for the latest information as well as the best treatment options can be a daunting, if not impossible, task. "It is my profound hope that the Monahan Center will make it easier for families to contend with perhaps the worst experience they will ever face by providing all the necessary resources under one roof," Couric said. "The frantic running around from place to place only adds insult to injury for patients and their families. That will be eliminated."

Mark Pochapin, M.D., will be named the Center's Medical Director. "I am thrilled that Dr. Pochapin has been chosen to lead this effort," Couric said. "Together, with NewYork-Presbyterian and EIF, we hope to improve the odds for individuals with gastrointestinal cancers—and help prevent the disease in everyone at risk. Education and prevention are an important part of the Center's mission; one of its primary goals is to make people not only more aware of GI cancers, but more comfortable talking about them. Colorectal and other GI cancers were almost unmentionable for far too long."

Gastrointestinal cancers—including cancers of the colon (large intestine), pancreas, liver, small intestine, gall bladder, stomach, and esophagus—constitute a significant percentage of cancer cases. Colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest; it is the second-leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S., causing an estimated 55,000 deaths each year. But it is also one of the most preventable; a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that 90 percent of lives could be saved through early detection and prevention.

"The Jay Monahan Center will be a unique model of integrated and compassionate care," said Dr. Herbert Pardes, President and Chief Executive Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian. "Building on our distinguished gastrointestinal disease program, the new Center will bring together the most comprehensive resources in a humanistic and interdisciplinary setting."

"The commitment of Katie Couric and EIF will make possible a truly world-class center for gastrointestinal health," said Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. "Their vision and dedication help us to fulfill our mission of excellence in cutting-edge medical research, education, and prevention."

"The Couric Effect"

Nearly five years ago, Couric's husband Jay Monahan, a highly regarded attorney and television legal commentator, lost his nine-month battle with colon cancer. In March 2000, Couric, cancer activist Lilly Tartikoff, and EIF co-founded the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA). Since then, Couric and the NCCRA have led an initiative to raise public awareness of colorectal cancer. Important milestones in this effort include substantial press attention, such as a TIME magazine cover story and the "TODAY" show broadcast of Couric's own colonoscopy, which garnered Couric several national honors, including the prestigious Peabody Award. The resulting heightened public awareness about colorectal cancer led to an almost 20 percent increase in colonoscopy screenings, which University of Michigan researchers dubbed "the Couric effect." Couric continues to actively promote colorectal cancer awareness on "TODAY" and elsewhere.

"We are very proud of our work with Katie to create the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance," said Lisa Paulsen, president and CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, "and the creation of the Monahan Center is a wonderful next step in the fight against these terrible cancers. The Monahan Center will be an extraordinary facility, a model for others around the country, and we are delighted to lend the entertainment industry's full support to help accelerate its opening."

Dr. Mark Pochapin

Dr. Mark Pochapin is Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and Chief of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is an expert in endoscopic ultrasound and has received numerous awards for his humanistic care and teaching. Dr. Pochapin received his medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College.

The Jay Monahan Center will be located on 70th Street and York Avenue in the Stich building on the campus of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and its academic partner, the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Jay Monahan Center Mission

World-class treatment. The Center will evaluate and offer new therapeutic approaches to prevention and treatment—from the latest diagnostic equipment to alternative and holistic options.

Education and prevention. The Center will promote education and prevention for its patients and the larger public, both locally and globally. Healthy individuals will be encouraged to take advantage of the Center's preventive information seminars and screenings. The Center will have a consumer Web site and comprehensive video library.

Interdisciplinary and humanistic approach. Gastroenterologists, oncologists, and surgeons will meet with patients in one location, and foster communication among specialists for all aspects of a patient's care. Patients will have access to social workers, genetic counselors, psychologists, nutritionists, and home-care services. A dedicated nurse manager will help patients seamlessly and compassionately navigate the medical care system.

Clinical research. The Center will be the first of its kind to provide a universal referral service for information on clinical outcomes, research protocols, prevention, and treatment. Research will focus on the most promising clinical trials, ensuring the latest and most effective patient-care options.

About the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance

The National Colorectal Research Alliance (NCCRA) was founded in March 2000 to raise awareness and research dollars in the fight against colon cancer. The NCCRA supports cutting-edge research conducted by leading scientists working on prevention, diagnostic tools, treatment, and, ultimately, a cure. Already, NCCRA-funded research has produced significant scientific advances, including a DNA-based stool test to detect not only colon cancer itself, but the gene mutation that can lead to the disease, and the identification of a gene that, in the future, can be specifically targeted for therapies.

About the Entertainment Industry Foundation

Celebrating 60 years of giving, the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) represents the collective philanthropy of the entertainment industry. EIF has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars and provided countless of volunteer hours to support charitable initiatives that address some of the most critical issues facing society today.

About NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Weill Cornell Medical Center

The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, one of the largest and most comprehensive health-care institutions in the world, comprises two major centers: NewYork Weill Cornell Medical Center at 68th St. in Manhattan and Columbia University Medical Center at 168th St. in Manhattan. The new Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health is located at the 68th St. Center. That Center, together with its academic partner, Weill Cornell Medical College, is designated by the name NewYork Weill Cornell Medical Center. The NewYork Weill Cornell Medical Center provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory, and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education, and community service.