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2013 Health Care Heroes: C. Max Schmidt, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, FACS

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Health Care HeroesFINALIST: Advancements In Health Care

C. Max Schmidt, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, FACS

Director, Pancreatic Cyst and Cancer Early Detection Center at Indiana University Health

The statistics on pancreatic cancer are devastating. In 85 percent of diagnosed cases, the cancer is too far advanced for surgery to be an option, and even when it is, surgery rarely provides a cure. Once diagnosed, the average life expectancy of a patient is less than one year. A “lucky” five percent survive for five years.

C. Max Schmidt, M.D., director of Indiana University Health’s Pancreatic Cyst and Cancer Early Detection Center, is dedicated to identifying and working with at-risk people before they develop the disease so they won’t become a statistic.
 

schmidt04-max-258.jpg(IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“There are really two windows of opportunity to cure pancreatic cancer,” Schmidt said. “One of those is by following patients who present with pancreatic cysts. The other is to follow people who are at-risk for pancreatic cancer because of their family history.”

Pancreatic cysts are key to early detection because 20 percent to 30 percent of them develop into cancer. Since cancers can take up to 20 years to form, there’s plenty of time for early detection. “The main focus of our lab is to detect biomarkers that will help us determine which of these high-risk patients we should subject to invasive treatments such as surgery, and which ones we don’t have to be as concerned about,” Schmidt said. “The most impressive biomarker we’ve discovered to date is one that can tell us, with near 100-percent certainty, that the cyst will not become a cancer.”

High-risk patients who test positive for the biomarker receive a “get out of jail free” card. The other high-risk patients continue to be followed, and cysts that turn precancerous can be removed before they become cancer.

Schmidt worked with the Regenstrief Institute, an informatics and health care research organization that collects data from patient medical records citywide, to identify at-risk patients. Future plans include developing an interface to notify primary care providers and others involved in a patient’s care when something in a patient’s medical record raises a red flag.

Once in place, Schmidt plans to “template” the technology to create a nationwide informatics-based pancreatic cancer prevention program to help raise awareness and promote the creation of more centers like the one at IU Health. “In the whole scheme of things, this may be the most promising of all because it will touch more lives,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt, 46, earned his medical degree and MBA from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in tumor biology from Georgetown while serving his internship and residency at Johns Hopkins. From 2000 to 2001 he honed his pancreatic surgical skills at Johns Hopkins Hospital while completing his Pancreaticobiliary Surgery Fellowship.

Since coming to IU in 2001, he’s grown the center to become the largest of its kind in the country. The clinic, which boasts one of the most robust tissue banks nationwide, coordinates the care and follow-up of more than 1,000 patients with precancerous lesions of the pancreas. It attracts patients far beyond Indiana’s borders.

Schmidt also heads B9, an IU startup company, created to identify and market the existence of biomarkers.

“Central Indiana, and beyond, is fortunate to have Dr. Schmidt tracking family histories, providing care, and most importantly, providing hope for thousands who will be affected by this devastating disease,” said Doug Schwartzentruber, M.D., system medical director at IU Health Cancer Centers. “With identification and proper screening of high-risk patients, prevention and early detection, survival is possible.”• 

 

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  1. The deductible is entirely paid by the POWER account. No one ever has to contribute more than $25/month into the POWER account and it is often less. The only cost not paid out of the POWER account is the ER copay ($8-25) for non-emergent use of the ER. And under HIP 2.0, if a member calls the toll-free, 24 hour nurse line, and the nurse tells them to go to the ER, the copay is waived. It's also waived if the member is admitted to the hospital. Honestly, although it is certainly not "free" - I think Indiana has created a decent plan for the currently uninsured. Also consider that if a member obtains preventive care, she can lower her monthly contribution for the next year. Non-profits may pay up to 75% of the contribution on behalf of the member, and the member's employer may pay up to 50% of the contribution.

  2. I wonder if the governor could multi-task and talk to CMS about helping Indiana get our state based exchange going so Hoosiers don't lose subsidy if the court decision holds. One option I've seen is for states to contract with healthcare.gov. Or maybe Indiana isn't really interested in healthcare insurance coverage for Hoosiers.

  3. So, how much did either of YOU contribute? HGH Thank you Mr. Ozdemir for your investments in this city and your contribution to the arts.

  4. So heres brilliant planning for you...build a $30 M sports complex with tax dollars, yet send all the hotel tax revenue to Carmel and Fishers. Westfield will unlikely never see a payback but the hotel "centers" of Carmel and Fishers will get rich. Lousy strategy Andy Cook!

  5. AlanB, this is how it works...A corporate welfare queen makes a tiny contribution to the arts and gets tons of positive media from outlets like the IBJ. In turn, they are more easily to get their 10s of millions of dollars of corporate welfare (ironically from the same people who are against welfare for humans).

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