Originally featured in Carolinas HealthCare System’s People Connect. Article written and prepared by Carolinas HealthCare Foundation.


A familiar face at Levine Cancer Institute since its inception, and a CHS Teammate since 2008, Dr. Earle F. Burgess, MD, is part of a pioneering medical team on the forefront of clinical research improving outcomes for patients diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Levine Cancer Institute is the only cancer center in the Greater-Charlotte region that is actively engaged in a broad spectrum of bladder cancer clinical research that is initiated by investigators on faculty. The Phase I and Phase II clinical trials conducted at LCI, Dr. Burgess explains, are vital because “they are the primary mechanism by which new drugs are tested…ultimately leading to advancements in standards of care.”

Dr. Burgess credits the success of the bladder cancer research program to a dedicated team including his colleagues, Drs. Clark, Gaston, and Riggs, as well as research nurses, data coordinators, and many other support staff who are essential to their research efforts. He also credits the program’s success to the important role that philanthropy plays in supporting the availability of clinical trials at LCI.

The goal of the program, per Dr. Burgess, is to develop a multi-disciplinary clinical research program that leads to improved patient outcomes by developing more effective treatments—ideally those that are better individualized for patients based on unique features of their tumors.

Presently, LCI has four bladder cancer clinical research trials open to patient enrollment, one of which was conceived of and written by Dr. Burgess and is only available at Levine Cancer Institute. Another clinical trial for bladder cancer treatment came as a blessing to patient Kathy Finch (pictured with Dr. Burgess).

Ms. Finch, he explains, “is a great example of someone who benefited from participation in a clinical trial of a new medication at LCI that was effective in treating her cancer.” Her outcome resulted in FDA approval of the same medication to be used in patients with advanced bladder cancer.

Dr. Burgess says he’s most proud to be a part of LCI “because of the opportunity it provides me as a physician to have access to cutting edge clinical research that has directly benefited many patients for whom I’ve cared…Ms. Finch is a great example.”

On May 6, 2017, Dr. Burgess will join Ms. Finch and a host of bladder cancer survivors and advocates for the 2nd Annual Carolinas 4 A Cure Bladder Cancer Walk benefiting bladder cancer research at Levine Cancer Institute. Learn more about the two mile walk.