Our Partners in Sarcoma Research



There are a number of high-profile cancer centers around the country that devote some portion of their financial and personnel resources to investigating and treating sarcoma.  In fact, our foundation donated to one of them each of our first few years.  Then Levine Cancer Institute opened its doors in Charlotte in 2012. We were impressed with their commitment to outstanding patient care and their laser focus on successfully treating cancers, including rare and complex ones like sarcoma, right in the community in which patients live.  This is especially poignant for sarcoma sufferers, who oftentimes have to travel great distances to access cutting-edge treatment options and knowledgeable physicians.

Our relationship with Levine Cancer Institute has blossomed since 2012, and we directly and passionately support their sarcoma research program with our foundation’s funds. We believe that committing to our ailing citizens through investing in LCI’s research program creates a stronger and more connected community.  We believe that this investment is worthwhile because the people of the Carolinas who live with sarcoma need the best care possible without distant travel.  And, because a top-notch, staunchly supported cancer center attracts talent and resources to our city, which leads to further funding of scientific research.  This circular connectivity between citizens, researchers, physicians, and sufferers also resonates outward and expands global hope and awareness.  In doing so, we are working worldwide towards sarcoma cures.

Our foundation is centered upon the renewed health of both adults and children stricken with sarcomas. Therefore, we continually endeavor to fund outstanding research projects at Levine Cancer Institute that we hope will improve patient outcomes at Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Children’s locally. At the same time, this research has a broad impact on the national landscape of sarcoma science as findings are published in scientific journals and presented at national conferences.

“The Sarcoma Stomp is pretty incredible in terms of the number of participants and the amount of money that goes directly into the hands of physicians and investigators to study this tumor – that’s incredible!”

Dr. Edward Kim
Chair, Solid Tumor Oncology and Investigational Therapeutics, Levine Cancer Institute

Current Sarcoma Research Projects

We are very proud to advance the scientific study of sarcoma globally while working to improve patient outcomes at Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Children’s through these noteworthy projects:


LCI-SAR-STS-PEM-001: A pilot study evaluating the safety, tolerability and efficacy of doxorubicin and pembrolizumab in patients with metastatic or unresectable soft tissue sarcoma

As part of the LCI-SAR-STS-PEM-001 study, Levine will evaluate the correlation between immunotherapy markers (PD-L1 expression levels) and the clinical effectiveness of pembrolizumab, investigate other biomarkers that may correlate with tumor responses, and evaluate differences in tumor tissue characteristics in biopsies taken during or post-treatment with pembrolizumab versus baseline. (Study fully enrolled but not completed.)

ClinicalTrials.gov:  http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03056001

This study’s poster was chosen by the Scientific Program Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) for a poster discussion honor at the May 2020 ASCO Annual Meeting due the to significance of the study’s results. “ORR (Overall Response Rate) of 36% was the highest reported efficacy to date in a pooled STS (soft tissue sarcoma) trial” ~ Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center poster discussant at ASCO

Levine Cancer Institute Sarcoma Clinical Trial Poster

Source: Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute

Levine researchers are conducting blood biopsies of those patients enrolled in LCI-SAR-STS-PEM-001, and will utilize the molecular information learned from the standard tumor tissue biopsies and compare them to the molecular information contained in the circulating tumor DNA found in the blood. While obtaining tumor tissue is still the gold standard for molecular profiling, there has been increased interest in evaluating the DNA in the blood (circulating tumor DNA), as obtaining a blood sample is a less invasive procedure and may yield different or complementary results compared to the tumor biopsy. Having paired solid and liquid biopsy samples will allow them to further elucidate the roles various molecular markers play in the development and progression of soft tissue sarcoma. (Approximate cost: $100,000)

Prospective Observational Trial Utilizing Liquid Biopsy Techniques for Treatment Response and Disease Surveillance in Resectable Non-Metastatic Intermediate- and High-grade Sarcoma Patients:

This prospective, observational study of patients with intermediate- and high-grade bone and soft tissue sarcomas will evaluate the use of a sarcoma-specific liquid biopsy circulating tumor DNA technique capable of identifying molecular patterns in sarcoma patients’ blood samples and correlating them with treatment response and disease progression. Blood specimens will be collected at various time points during a patient’s disease from diagnosis to up to two years post-treatment. Plasma samples will be sequenced to identify structural variants and targeted translocations that are specific to sarcoma. The molecular patterns identified by liquid biopsy will be compared to standard surveillance methods utilized to detect treatment response and distant metastasis. The results of this study will provide valuable information that will allow for more effective patient management and a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms driving sarcomas.

Biomarker Studies:

Researchers are analyzing certain tissue samples in sarcoma patients across the Levine Cancer Institute network to identify unique biomarkers. These studies hope to uncover actionable mutations that may be used to structure future studies/clinical trials.

  • Liposarcoma Study – Completed 10 years of clinical data and 600 biomarkers tested on 41 specimens. READ THE STUDY
  • Synovial Sarcoma Study – 10 years of clinical data and 35 specimens have been catalogued. The testing of the tumor tissues is pending. (Approximate cost: $56,000)
  • Osteosarcoma Study – Cataloguing of clinical data and specimens is underway. Scientists at Levine Cancer Institute will use specialized techniques to extract and test the cancer cells from these samples. (Approximate cost: $180,000)



Retrospective Study on radiation therapy in soft tissue sarcoma treatment:

Kneisl, J. S., Ferguson, C., Robinson, M., Crimaldi, A., Ahrens, W., Symanowski, J., . . . Kim, E. S. (2017). The effect of radiation therapy in the treatment of adult soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities: A long-term community-based cancer center experience. Cancer Medicine,6(3), 516-525. doi:10.1002/cam4.972


We will regularly update participants and donors on the progress we make towards executing these vital endeavors through our  email communications and social media. For personal, one-on-one project updates, please feel free to contact us by phone or email.

Please contact Levine Cancer Institute at (980) 442-2000 to get information on sarcoma clinical trials or to make patient appointments.


About Levine Cancer Institute

Levine Cancer Institute opened its doors in 2012 as part of Atrium Health (formerly Carolinas Healthcare System), bringing a transformative approach to the delivery of cancer care in the Carolinas. The Institute’s unique access model delivers innovative treatments at facilities both within the Charlotte metropolitan area and beyond, thereby eliminating barriers to world class care for patients in less populated regions. Levine Cancer Institute has expanded to over 25 sites within the Atrium Health system and now treats 16,000-17,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients a year – making it the third largest cancer network in the United States.

In April of 2019, Levine Cancer Institute II opened its doors. The $125 million, 260,000 square-foot building is providing development in several areas of cancer care, including elevated research efforts around innovative treatments, survivorship support programs, palliative care and patient rehabilitation. Additional areas for support include expanded hematologic, thoracic, and gastrointestinal oncology capabilities, a larger pharmacy and infusion area.

Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Cancer Institute II share an address – 1021 Morehead Medical Drive, Charlotte, NC 28204 – and are connected by an above-ground walkway.

As a not-for-profit healthcare provider, Levine Cancer Institute relies on philanthropic support to provide new and innovative research. This support is especially vital for advancements in rare cancers, like sarcoma, that receive little governmental research funding.  The Paula Takacs Foundation maintains The Paula Takacs Sarcoma Research Fund at Levine Cancer Institute to fund critical research projects needed to make scientific advancements in laboratory research and to offer patients novel treatment options through clinical trials.

About Levine Children’s

As the largest children’s hospital between Atlanta and Washington, DC, Levine Children’s in Charlotte, NC provides expert care in more than 30 areas of pediatric medicine. They have been recognized by the U.S. News & World Report as a Best Children’s Hospital in many specialties, including cancer. They treat more pediatric patients per day than any other hospital in North Carolina, and have the region’s first 24/7 emergency room for children.

Levine Cancer Institute
Levine Children's Hospital
Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research Plaque at Levine Center Institute
The Paula Takacs Foundation Plaque at Levine Cancer Institute
Sue Udelson posing next to PT Foundation Plaque

The Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research | Charlotte, NC 28271 | (704) 516-5113