This week, the University of Kansas Cancer Center (KUCC) made significant progress in its battle against cancer when it was selected as a “National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Center.” NCI is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and our nation’s principal agency for cancer research and training, which focuses on turning laboratory discoveries into new treatments for cancer patients. Achieving this new designation will dramatically enhance KUCC’s ability to discover, develop and deliver innovative treatments to patients in our state and region – offering hope to thousands of cancer patients.
Our nation’s cancer centers are at the front line in the global effort to combat cancer. Until this week, there were 66 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers across our country but none in Kansas. With this exclusive designation, KUCC patients will have access to the latest clinical trials and the most advanced cancer treatments close to home. Because NCI designation is the highest recognition for an academic cancer center, KUCC will also be better positioned to recruit the brightest researchers and scientists to develop cutting-edge treatments and cures here in Kansas.
KUCC’s pursuit of NCI designation began more than a decade ago and was made possible by the strong support from the local community in Kansas City, the state of Kansas, and the entire region. KUCC estimates its pursuit of NCI designation has already created more than 1,100 jobs and had a regional economic impact of $453 million. The good news is that this is only the beginning because studies show that NCI designation will attract thousands more jobs and billions of dollars to our state’s economy. This extraordinary accomplishment will have a transformative effect on our state’s economy, enabling Kansas to continue developing into a research powerhouse for medical, pharmaceutical and technological advancement.
Last September, when KUCC submitted its official application for NCI designation, I formally supported this endeavor by contributing to KUCC’s application package. Additionally, on February 22, 2012, I was honored to attend KUCC’s official NCI site visit to speak to NCI scientists and express my full and ongoing commitment to KUCC in its pursuit of NCI designation.
Our nation has long recognized the importance of a sustained commitment to advancing cancer research, which has saved millions of lives and billions of dollars. As a member of the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee, I have the opportunity to help shape a budget for our nation that prioritizes life-saving medical research and cost-effective health programs. Last fall, I offered an amendment to prevent a reduction in the NIH and NCI budgets for 2012. My amendment was fully offset and would have prioritized medical research, such as the enhanced research opportunities that NCI designation will afford KUCC, without adding to our nation’s annual deficit. Earlier this month, I offered a similar amendment to significantly boost the NIH budget for FY2013 that was also fully offset, because now is not the time to waiver on America’s commitment to advancing disease cures and treatments.
The next century holds great promise for future discoveries. Thanks to our nation’s commitment to cancer research, more than 12 million Americans are cancer survivors. Yet, there is so much more to be done. By investing in medical research, we are investing in our future and driving economic growth. KUCC is uniquely suited to make a lasting impact on the millions of Americans living within its service area that spans 120,000 square miles. I congratulate the teams at KUCC, KU Medical Center, KU Hospital and other partners on this outstanding achievement that will have a life-changing impact on Kansans for generations to come.