KANSAS CITY, KAN. Kansas University Medical Center has hired a new director for its Kansas Masonic Cancer Research Institute, a step toward receiving a national designation that would bring millions of dollars in federal research funds to KU.
The new director, Roy Jensen, is a nationally recognized cancer researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Jensen helped Vanderbilt's Ingram Cancer Center achieve the National Cancer Institute's comprehensive cancer center designation, the same goal KU has set for its cancer center.
"I witnessed the tremendous effect the NCI designation had on the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center," Jensen said, "and I believe that this goal is one of, if not the most, important goals for the university and the University of Kansas Hospital at this time."
Jensen succeeds William Jewell, who founded the institute in 1996. Jewell plans to return to full-time research and medical practice.
Jensen is a Kansas City native and attended Neosho Junior College and Pittsburg State University before receiving his medical degree from Vanderbilt in 1984.
The National Institutes of Health funds his research, which focuses on proteins that are responsible for inhibiting growth of breast cancer cells.
Jensen is the KU institute's first full-time director. The position was made possible by a $500,000 gift from the Kansas Masonic Foundation, which has given a total of $20 million to the institute since its inception. KU renamed the institute in honor of the foundation last month.
KU plans to recruit additional cancer researchers and clinicians to work toward the NCI designation.
"The energy that's now in our cancer research program and in all our life sciences research is impressive," Chancellor Robert Hemenway said. "We are recruiting top scientists to the Medical Center from all over the country and will continue to do so."