In its quest to gain National Cancer Institute designation, the Kansas University Cancer Center is bringing in six top researchers from across the country to head its leadership team.
To help attract that leadership team, the Kansas Bioscience Authority investment committee on Monday recommended spending $9 million to fund five of the six positions. The investment committee’s recommendation will be passed onto the entire KBA board Oct. 11.
While the bulk of the money will go toward covering the five candidate salaries and benefits, some of it will also be used to buy equipment and research supplies and to hire other scientists to assist in the research. All of the researchers will work at KU Medical Center’s Wahl/Hixon Research Complex in Kansas City.
Among those on the team is Kapil Bhalla, who was a professor of medicine at the Medical College of Georgia and head of the college’s cancer center. Bhalla has been named as KU Cancer Center’s deputy director. The KBA plans to spend $2.05 million over five years to fund Bhalla’s position.
Shrikant Anant will be the KU Cancer Center’s associate director for prevention. Anant comes from the University of Oklahoma, where he was associate professor of medicine and cell biology and director of gastroenterology research. The KBA investment committee recommended spending $1.45 million over five years to fund Anant’s position.
The KBA investment committee also recommended funding three other positions. They include an associate director for transitional research, who will receive $3.36 million over five years; the associate director for basic science, who will receive $1.58 million over five years; and the director of phase 1 trials, who will receive $725,000 over five years.
The KBA will not announce who will fill those positions until the candidates formally accept the job. One more position, the associate director for clinical research, will make up the leadership team. A researcher had been selected for that role, but turned the offer down.
Having a strong leadership team in place is among the benchmarks the KU Cancer Center has to meet before it submits its application a year from now to the National Cancer Institute.
Also important in the application process is how much in grants the researchers will bring to the KU Cancer Center. Combined, the five candidates have $1.7 million in National Cancer Institute grants each year.