The University of Kansas Cancer Center joined an elite group of 67 institutions in July, when it was named a National Cancer Institute–designated cancer center.
The University of Kansas Cancer Center (KUCC) in Kansas City was named a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated cancer center in July, a distinction currently held by just 67 institutions in the United States that exhibit scientific excellence and integrate diverse approaches to cancer research.
Cancer patients in the region now will have access to treatments and clinical trials only available at NCI–designated centers. In addition, KUCC will receive about $7 million from the NCI over the next 5 years, will be able to apply for other federal grants set aside for NCI-designated centers, and can make a stronger case for attracting additional research dollars from private organizations. Private money will be used to fund pilot research projects, purchase advanced technology, and recruit top-notch investigators.
To bolster its application to the NCI, KUCC renovated 170,000 square feet of existing space for basic science research and, separately, 82,000 square feet of space in a building donated for clinical research.
The designation “can have a game-changing effect on the institution,” says KUCC Director Roy Jensen, MD, adding that civic and political leaders embraced the idea of applying for the NCI designation. “It was an opportunity to ‘do good’ and enhance the local economy.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars in philanthropic gifts and money from state and local coffers—including more than $107 million from private donors, $20 million from the Kansas Masonic Foundation, and $5 million a year since 2007 from the state—have helped fund the remodeling projects. Since 2009, a sales tax of one-eighth cent in Johnson County, Kansas, home to KUCC, has generated about $5 million a year for the clinical research center.
Recognized for clinical excellence in blood, breast, head and neck, and prostate cancers, KUCC is also highly regarded for its basic science and clinical research efforts, including drug discovery and development.
KUCC has also fostered an affiliation with Kansas City's Stowers Institute for Medical Research, which conducts basic biomedical research. “Without support from the Stowers Institute, it would've been very difficult to make this happen,” Jensen said of the new designation.
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