NCI designation timeline
KU Medical Center receives $20 million commitment from the Kansas Masonic Foundation to support cancer research. The gift allows the center to recruit its first full-time director, Dr. Roy Jensen.
2005: KU declares attaining NCI designation as its top research priority.
2006: The Kansas Legislature approves a $5 million appropriation for the cancer center, which is continued each following year.
The cancer center establishes the Drug Discovery, Delivery and Experimental Therapeutic program, led by Dr. Valentino Stella. Under Stella’s contract, eight of the 17 NCI cancer drug therapies advancing to clinical trials have been formulated at KU.
2007: KUMC launches the Midwest Cancer Alliance, a regional network of health care and research organizations to enhance collaborations and increase access to clinical trials.
KU Hospital opens outpatient Cancer Center and Medical Pavilion, the largest outpatient center in the region.
2008: Voters in Johnson County approve a one-eighth-cent sales tax for the Johnson County Education and Research Triangle that will help fund the KU Clinical Research Center, site of early-phase clinical trials for cancer and other new therapies.
Annette Bloch donates $20 million to KU Hospital cancer services.
The NCI invites KU to apply for cancer center designation.
2009: Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation formed with $8.1 million grant from the Kauffman Foundation, matched by KU Endowment.
Kansas Bioscience Authority awards $29 million for research space and recruitment of scholars.
Gift of $10 million from Joe and Jean Brandmeyer creates endowed chair of Radiation Oncology.
2010: The Hall Family Foundation of Kansas City commits $18 million to help recruit scientists and fund Phase I clinical trials facility in Fairway.
The NIH awards KU researchers $12 million to improve prevention and cancer survival rates for rural, Latino and Native American communities in Kansas.
2011: The Kansas Bioscience Authority has committed more than $50 million to the NCI designation effort.
Hundreds of donors to KU Endowment provide $61 million to fund NCI priorities.
KU Cancer Center’s first patient outcomes report documents excellent patient survival rates.
KU Cancer Center and Kansas City Cancer Center merge to create the area’s premier outpatient cancer care organization, with more than 50 medical and radiation oncologists working in 12 locations.
June 2012: The National Cancer Advisory Board meets and recommends that the KU Cancer Center’s application be funded, resulting in National Cancer Institute designation.
Now that the Kansas University Cancer Center has received National Cancer Institute designation, what’s next on director Dr. Roy Jensen’s to-do list?
Preparing for the renewal of the designation. “The time to plan is now,” Jensen says.
In June 2012, the Cancer Center became the 67th NCI-designated center in the United States and the first in the region.
The designation means the center will receive more research funding and bring the most advanced cancer care to patients. Cancer survival rates are much higher at NCI-designated centers.
But getting the NCI designation isn’t permanent. Centers have to reapply every five years.
“We have used a lot of the last year as a time for planning and introspection,” Jensen said. Now that the designation has been attained, the next stage is focusing on how to get better, he said.
“We have kicked off a strategic planning process with the identification of a peer group of institutions and doing a gap analysis of where they were and where we were,” he said.
The center’s research continues to grow despite a tough funding environment because of federal budget problems. The center’s annual research totals $53 million in overall cancer funding.
“Since 2003, the NIH (National Institutes of Health) budget has probably lost somewhere in the range of 20 percent of its purchasing power,” Jensen said. “It becomes difficult to really take full advantage of every opportunity that comes along. You have all these great ideas and (are) worried about keeping your faculty funded.”
The center aims to enhance collaboration and treatment of cancer, identify better cancer prevention efforts in high-risk and underserved populations, develop overall cancer prevention methods and discover new drugs to treat cancer.
“We have unbelievable opportunities unfolding in cancer research,” Jensen said, noting the advances in genome sequencing.
The efforts are all aimed at improving the lives of the thousands of area cancer patients. The center treats about 8,000 people in facilities on both sides of the Kansas-Missouri line.
“We’ve had a really great year, and we’re very grateful for all of the support we have received throughout this region,” Jensen said. “Without that we couldn’t have been successful. We dedicate ourselves to ensuring that every cancer patient in this region is getting the best possible care.”