Kansas University and Kansas State University on Tuesday signed an agreement to work together to try to get National Cancer Institute designation for the KU Cancer Center.
Getting that designation as a comprehensive center “is one of our highest health care priorities,” said Gov. Kathleen Sebelius during a signing ceremony attended by numerous state leaders.
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and KSU President Jon Wefald signed a memorandum of understanding that commits both schools to collaborate on cancer research.
“This is clearly an important day,” said Hemenway. Wefald joked, “When Wildcats and Jayhawks get together, good things happen.”
Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said obtaining NCI designation, which has been granted to some 60 centers nationally, will ensure that Kansans can remain in Kansas to get the best care possible for cancer.
With KSU on board, Parkinson said that sends a message that the cancer institute designation is for all Kansans — not just one school.
“It’s about the entire state, it’s about the entire region,” he said.
The KU Cancer Center is on schedule to apply for NCI designation in 2011.
Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said the agreement “helps build our strengths and it synergizes the two programs. The more research activity that is reflected in the center, the better.”
Jensen added, “One of the strengths that this collaboration brings is the fact that they (K-State) will have an outlet and a mechanism to help translate their research findings into new therapeutic approaches.”
Under the agreement, researchers at K-State’s Terry Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research and the KU Cancer Center can more easily work together on projects.
Several speakers at the news conference said the state will get behind the effort as it did in winning the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility on the K-State campus.
“The NBAF initiative proved that Kansans can achieve great things when they unite behind a common goal,” Sebelius said.