Read more about the cancer center
Kansas University asked the Kansas Bioscience Authority on Thursday to support its quest to build a nationally designated cancer center with the same backing the authority put behind landing a $450 million federal lab in Manhattan.
The university has placed obtaining the National Cancer Institute’s designation as a cancer center as its top priority. There are 63 designated cancer centers in the country.
On Thursday, KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway, the cancer center’s director Roy Jensen and other top officials spoke to the authority’s finance and investment committee asking to join forces. That partnership would come with funding to help recruit top researchers and build facilities to attract those researchers to the cancer center.
Among the four facilities proposed is a 203,600-square-foot cancer drug delivery and biology research building at KU’s West Campus in Lawrence.
The request comes a little more than a month after the Department of Homeland Security recommended a Kansas location out of four other states for its National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF. The Kansas Bioscience Authority has played a large role in rallying state support for the facility.
“Frankly, we need you to partner with us,” Jensen said. “Just like NBAF couldn’t be done without KBA, the national cancer center designation couldn’t be done without KBA.”
Board members called the goal of a cancer center designation inspiring and noble and something they would like to assist in. The university is expected to present a more concrete proposal at the authority’s next investment committee meeting.
“It seems cancer has touched the lives of every family in America, including mine,” KBA board member Ray Smilor said. “This is a unique opportunity.”
Garnering designation as a cancer center would give the university — and its patients — access to more clinical trials and potentially millions of dollars more in grants for research. Currently, cancer patients must travel at least 200 miles to reach a designated cancer center.
With the designation, KU officials claim the cancer center would put $1.3 billion annually into the economy through new research, clinical trials and reduction in mortality rates.