UF Health Cancer Center eligible for governor’s proposed funding for seeking NCI designation

Florida Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his $80 million plan to create new National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers to serve Florida's residents during a Jan. 28 announcement at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. The proposed legislation will support expansion of cancer research and patient care in the state, leading to improved cancer treatments and access to advanced cancer care for Florida's residents. Joining Gov. Scott at the announcement, from the left, are Robert Hromas, M.D., FACP; Wayne Jenkins, M.D.; Paul Okunieff, M.D.; Gov. Rick Scott; Mark Roh, M.D.; Kevin Behrns M.D.; David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.;  and UF President Bernie Machen, D.D.S., Ph.D.For media inquiries contact Rossana Passaniti at 352-273-8569 or email passar@shands.ufl.edu or Katie Dagenais at 407-242-0305 or email Katie.dagenais@orlandohealth.com.

A proposed bill to create the Florida Consortium of National Cancer Institute Centers announced by Florida Gov. Rick Scott today (Tuesday, Jan. 28) could potentially help the UF Health Cancer Center and the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health bring even more extensive research and patient care to Floridians with cancer.

The proposed legislation, which would be funded through the William G. “Bill” Bankhead, Jr., and David Coley Cancer Research Program, would help enhance the quality of cancer care in Florida through research, patient care and education. The goal is to create more National Cancer Institute-designated centers in Florida to address the increasing cancer rates in the state.

“As UF Health strengthens its commitment to patient care and cancer research through a dedicated cancer hospital and a new partnership with Orlando Health, Gov. Scott’s proposal provides welcome support for the battle against cancer in Florida,” said UF President Bernie Machen. “Such support is critical at a time when cancer is emerging as the state’s most pressing health threat.”

At the joint oncology program at UF Health and Orlando Health, such funding could aid in the expansion of care and treatment options for the 2 million-plus people served, and also will bring it closer to its goal of becoming a designated cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. The designation recognizes institutions with world-class programs in multidisciplinary cancer research and clinical care.

The proposed bill would allocate funding based on programs in cancer care, cancer research and cancer training. Specific metrics in each of these areas help determine the amount of state funding allocated. The proposed bill also assigns weight to different institutions depending upon their current NCI designation, with a category for institutions that are actively pursuing an NCI designation.

The bill assigns tier-designated weights to each center’s performance metrics based on NCI status, as follows:

  • Tier 1: Florida-based NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers
  • Tier 2: Florida-based NCI-designated cancer centers
  • Tier 3: Florida-based cancer centers in pursuit of designation as either a NCI-designated cancer center or NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center

“At the UF Health Cancer Center and the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health, we are well-positioned to meet the criteria outlined in the governor’s proposal,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health. UF Health and Orlando Health announced plans in December to join forces to establish one of the state’s largest, most comprehensive cancer programs. “We have more than 100 ongoing cancer studies, and total research funding for cancer alone totaled more than $36 million last year. Our joint oncology program uniquely positions us to be successful applicants for NCI designation, which is our goal and intention. We look forward to competing for funds under the proposed budget allocation that would accelerate this process.”

Florida ranks second in the nation in terms of cancer incidence and mortality, with 117,000 newly diagnosed cases each year, and as the state’s population continues to rise, projections suggest that it will become No. 1. Also, Florida is poised to become the third most populous state in the nation. Yet there is currently only one NCI-designated cancer center in Florida, while California has 10, New York has six and Texas has four.

“We have hundreds of physicians dedicated to serving the residents of Florida by providing state-of-the-art cancer treatment, prevention, control and education, and faculty who strive to quickly translate the latest research findings into therapeutic, diagnostic or preventive processes that can be used in clinics,” said Paul Okunieff, M.D., director of the UF Health Cancer Center. “We applaud the governor’s commitment to cancer research and to seeking out more NCI-designated cancer centers in the state.”

NCI-designated cancer centers demonstrate scientific leadership and have resources and capabilities in a combination of laboratory, clinical and population science. The centers put significant resources into developing research programs, faculty and facilities to accelerate finding successful approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Most NCI-designated cancer centers are affiliated with major universities.

“With Orlando and Gainesville medical staff and faculty working together, we will be able to expand cancer treatments and services to many patients across the state,” said Mark Roh, M.D., president of the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health. “We are extremely grateful for the state’s support, which will help us take cancer care in Florida to the next level.”

About UF Health

University of Florida Health is the Southeast’s most comprehensive academic health center. With main campuses in Gainesville and Jacksonville, UF Health includes six health colleges, seven research institutes and centers, two teaching hospitals, two specialty hospitals, and a host of physician medical practices and outpatient services throughout north central and northeast Florida. Our mission is to promote health through outstanding and high-quality patient care, innovative and rigorous education in the health professions and biomedical sciences, and high-impact research across the spectrum of basic, translational and clinical investigation.

UF Health includes the UF colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Health Professions, and Veterinary Medicine, which includes both a large animal hospital and a small animal hospital. The system also encompasses seven UF research institutes and centers: the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of UF, the UF Genetics Institute, the UF Health Cancer Center, the UF Institute on Aging, the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute, and the UF Research and Academic Center at Lake Nona.

The full spectrum of patient-care services are provided through UF Health Shands and UF Health Jacksonville, UF’s private, not-for-profit affiliates. UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville includes UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital. The specialty hospitals, UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital and UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital, are also located in Gainesville. UF Health Jacksonville is the system’s northeast Florida teaching hospital.

UF Health offers a network of outpatient rehabilitation centers, UF Health Rehab Centers; two home health agencies in Gainesville and Jacksonville; and more than 80 UF Health physician outpatient practices located throughout north central and northeast Florida.

UF Health Shands also owns an interest in three rural community hospitals in Lake City, Live Oak and Starke and an urgent care center in Gainesville.

 About Orlando Health

Orlando Health is a $1.9 billion not-for-profit health care organization and a community-based network of physician practices, hospitals and care centers throughout Central Florida.

The organization, which includes Physician Associates, one of the largest multispecialty practices in central Florida and the area’s only Level One Trauma Centers for adults and pediatrics, is a statutory teaching hospital system that offers both specialty and community hospitals. They are: Orlando Regional Medical Center; Dr. P. Phillips Hospital; South Seminole Hospital; Health Central Hospital, the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, which consists of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies; the UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health (effective January 31, 2014), South Lake Hospital (50 percent affiliation); and St. Cloud Regional Medical Center (20 percent affiliation). Areas of clinical excellence are heart and vascular, cancer care, neurosciences, surgery, pediatric orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatology, and women’s health.

Orlando Health is one of Central Florida’s largest employers with nearly 15,000 employees and more than 2,500 affiliated physicians supporting our philosophy of providing high quality care and service that revolves around patients’ needs. We prove this everyday with over 110,000 inpatient admissions and nearly 690,000 outpatient visits each year. In all, Orlando Health serves 1.6 million Central Florida residents and nearly 3,000 international patients annually. Additionally, Orlando Health provides approximately $239 million in support of community health needs. More information can be found at www.orlandohealth.com.

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