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You can learn more about our clinical trials by viewing our list of trials or by calling the Avera Cancer Institute Navigation Center.


Cancer Research

Until the world discovers a cure for cancer, each new treatment represents new hope.

Cancer clinical trials at Avera may open new doors for you and your loved ones by offering opportunities at the level of cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment. Oftentimes, these studies offer innovative options in addition to the current standard of care.

Led by John H. Lee, MD, FACS, Chief Medical Officer for Avera Cancer Research, our robust cancer research and clinical trials program ensures that you have access to the latest developments in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Today’s patients benefit from Avera’s ever-expanding cancer research so that more people at more sites can receive the most cutting-edge options in cancer care while staying as close to home as possible.

To achieve this goal, we have disease-specific research staff who match patients to available clinical trials. Our research has expanded outside of Sioux Falls and Aberdeen to include locations in Pierre and Yankton, with the goal of offering cancer clinical trials at all six Avera Cancer Institute locations.

Cutting-Edge Cancer Research

When it comes to cancer care, most people understand the standard treatments: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Avera Cancer Research also offers cell therapies and immunotherapy treatments.

Cancer immunotherapy builds on the body’s natural immune response to recognize and remove cancer cells while also helping the immune system in various ways, such as blocking the immune system’s checkpoints to allow it to respond more strongly to cancer, or using immune cell therapy to selectively target cancer cells so they are more visible to the immune system.

We have the infrastructure in place to expand access to cutting-edge treatments through clinical trials, along with standard of care treatment plans. Examples include our work with precision oncology and our participation in many clinical trials.

Part of a Collaboration of Worldwide Genomics Experts

As part of a global consortium, Avera Cancer Institute joins others around the world with a shared goal: curing cancer through targeted therapies, based on the science of genomics.

Avera Cancer Institute is the fifth medical institution in the United States to join the Worldwide Innovative Networking (WIN) Consortium. The WIN Consortium is a global network of leading academic, industry, insurance and non-profit research organizations working to make personalized cancer care a reality for patients worldwide.

Clinical Trials for Innovative Cancer Treatment

You benefit from access to a variety of innovative clinical trial treatment options through the Avera Cancer Institute’s collaboration with industry sponsors and membership in NRG Oncology, which is one of four adult cancer groups sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

Avera cancer research continues to expand across our footprint. You won’t need to travel far from home to receive the latest in cancer care, including a wide variety of clinical trials for:

  • Screening and diagnosis
  • Treatment for all stages of cancer including but not limited to:
    • Chemotherapy
    • Radiation
    • Genomic/precision therapy
    • Cellular therapy
    • Immunotherapy
    • Compassionate use and expanded access

Through collaboration with Avera’s FACT-accredited Transplant and Cellular Therapy team, the cancer research team is able to offer clinical trials utilizing cell therapy for treatment of patients with not only hematologic malignancies, but solid tumor cancers as well.

Meet Our Researchers

John Lee, MD

John H. Lee, MD, FACS

John Lee is the Clinical Medical Officer for Cancer Research at the Avera Cancer Institute. He provides leadership and strategic direction of Avera’s cancer research program, and clinical activities for translational research, early phase trials and clinical trials in the delivery of cancer care. Cancer immunotherapy, which builds on the body’s natural immune response to recognize and remove cancer cells. He has helped invent over 20 new patents for immunotherapy products and led in the professional licensing of three new pharmaceutical products.

Casey Williams

Casey B. Williams, PharmD

Casey Williams is the Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director of Cancer Research for the Avera Cancer Institute, leading the Precision Oncology Program. He is principal investigator of the ASAP trial through a collaboration with Sema4 and holds five active INDs to study and develop novel drug combinations. His clinical involvement and research efforts are focused in drug development and genomics. Williams is a fellow of the Hematology/Oncology/Pharmacy Association and has faculty appointments at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, South Dakota State University School of Pharmacy and the University of South Dakota School of Medicine.

View list of research publications

Tobias Meissner

Tobias Meissner

Tobias Meissner is the Cancer Genomics Manager at the Avera Cancer Institute. He leads the bioinformatics group at the Avera Cancer Institute consisting of highly specialized and experienced computational biologists, biostatisticians and bioinformaticians. Meissner has a strong interest in cancer genomics and omics technologies. His research interests involve prospective data analysis in n-of-1 sequencing settings, integration of multi-omics data to guide individualized cancer treatment, and the development of tools and algorithms for the identification of risk factors and risk-stratification.

View list of research publications

Nandini Dey

Nandini Dey, PhD, BS, MS

Nandini Dey is the Director of the Translational Oncology Laboratory at Avera Cancer Institute and serves as Senior Scientist Lead. Her primary focus is the study of the signal-processing in tumor cells with reference to solid tumors, including Triple Negative Breast Cancer, High-Grade Serous Ovarian Cancers, and Endometrial Cancers. Dey has authored a dozen preclinical drug-trial studies in her career. She also has extensive experience as an educator and lead educator.

View list of research publications

Pradip De

Pradip De, PhD, MS

Pradip De is a Senior Scientist with the Translational Oncology Laboratory at Avera Cancer Institute and an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. De’s major research interest involves scientific interrogation of the genomic alterations of tumors in patients who receive treatment at ACI. He also runs hypothesis-driven scientific projects to understand the mechanism of drug action in tumor cells and to test combinations of targeted drugs.

View list of research publications

Moving Health Forward

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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