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In the spotlight: Jordan Winter, MD

New UH Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology to build on vision for innovation and expansion


UH Innovations in Digestive Health - Fall 2018

Jordan Winter, MD


Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology, UH Cleveland Medical Center, Director of Surgical Services, UH Seidman Cancer Center; Clinical Associate Professor, Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Jordan Winter, MD, accepted the offer to join University Hospitals for many reasons: The leadership role. The opportunity to work alongside surgical oncology experts. And especially, the environment.

“The profound compassion that staff at all levels display toward patients really stood out to me,” says Dr. Winter, the new Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Director of Surgical Services at UH Seidman Cancer Center. “That empathy and caring is reflected in everything that happens at this institution.”

Dr. Winter's vision for the Surgical Oncology division builds on UH's approach in delivering multidisciplinary, specialized care. “We want to expand clinically to increase our footprint across the region and nationally,” Dr. Winter says. “We also want to increase our academic productivity and contributions to surgical and oncological science, such that the UH Seidman Cancer Center becomes known as an incubator for innovative science, quality outcomes research and first-rate cancer care.”



As a nationally recognized researcher, educator and surgeon focusing on pancreatic cancer, Dr. Winter is well positioned to lead UH toward these goals. He recently authored a Phase II single-arm clinical trial for CPI-613, a drug in development by Rafael Pharmaceuticals. The trial, which recently received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, targets patients with locally advanced or borderline pancreatic cancer. Dr. Winter expects enrollment to start in November 2018.

The Phase I study showed promising results: three complete responses to the drug (when used in combination with standard-of-care therapy) out of 18 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer – a 17 percent complete response rate. That is substantially higher than standard therapy.

CPI-613 targets enzymes in mitochondria involved in cancer cell energy.

“Mitochondria are extremely important for pancreatic cancer survival,” Dr. Winter says. “This trial targets a real metabolic vulnerability. If this larger Phase II study replicates early-phase data, it could mean dramatic improvement in survival rates.”

Dr. Winter also received funding from National Cancer Institute (NCI) that extended a five-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for an additional two years. The grants allow Dr. Winter and team to conduct research to identify new molecular targets to treat pancreatic cancer.

“We're focusing on understanding why and how pancreatic cancer cells survive and thrive in a harsh microenvironment,” he says. “If we can understand those survival mechanisms, we'll be able to target and develop novel therapies.”

UH Seidman Cancer Center, which is part of the National Cancer Institute-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, is one of an elite few comprehensive pancreatic cancer centers with NIH funding for research. This allows UH to pursue studies that range from lab bench projects to patient trials, Dr. Winter says.

As a surgeon-scientist, Dr. Winter brings a multidimensional view to both his research and to the operating room, which enhances both practices. “Innovation happens at the intersection of different perspectives,” he says.

After meeting hundreds of pancreatic cancer patients, he sees research as his responsibility to those battling the disease. “We can't keep repeating the same marginal treatments over and over without asking questions and figuring out how we can do better,” Dr. Winter says. “Our patients deserve that.”



Dr. Winter comes to UH from Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia, where he served as Co-Director of the Jefferson Pancreas, Biliary and Related Cancer Center, Co-Director of the GI Multidisciplinary Clinical Trials Group in the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, and Co-Director of the Multidisciplinary Pancreas Cancer Clinic. Although he's new to UH, joining the team in early September, he quickly realized its potential for growth in pancreatic cancer care.

“We deliver excellent care now,” Dr. Winter says. “We have excellent surgeons and knowledgeable and caring medical and radiation oncologists, giving us one of the most well-respected programs in the region. We're on a positive trajectory, and I believe we have the ability to become one of the top major health systems nationally. It's only a matter of time before people outside northern Ohio know about us.”


Dr. Winter can be reached at 216-844-5777.