New cancer research partner for UF


University of Florida President Bernie Machen shakes hands with Moffitt Cancer Center CEO William Dalton on Wednesday.

Aaron Daye/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 11:47 p.m.

Tampa-based H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center will partner with the University of Florida and Shands HealthCare in an innovative approach to cancer care.

Facts

The players

Moffitt Cancer Center: Tampa-based NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center includes 162-bed cancer hospital, research institute, genomics center, largest bone marrow transplant program in the Southeast.

UF College of Medicine: Largest of six health-related colleges in the Health Science Center, with two campuses (Gainesville and Jacksonville), and breakthrough research through the McKnight Brain Institute, Institute on Aging, UF Genetics Institute, UF Shands Cancer Center, Emerging Pathogens Institute.

Shands HealthCare: Encompasses eight hospitals, two of which are academic medical centers. Shands at UF specializes in care for patients with highly complex medical conditions. Shands at UF Cancer Hospital is slated to open in 2009.

The collaboration was announced at a news conference in UF's new Cancer-Genetics Research Complex on Wednesday.

"This is an effort to leverage and link the resources of three world-class institutions," College of Medicine Dean Bruce Kone said.

Kone said that pilot projects would be "a natural extension of existing faculty collaborations."

Under the agreement, the trio will work together to develop programs in cancer care, research and prevention.

In announcing the new alliance with Moffitt, UF President Bernie Machen described the state of Florida as "ground zero in the battle against cancer."

More than 100,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in Florida, and 40,000 Floridians - more than 100 per day - die of the disease, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society.

The cooperative effort will target how cancer starts, how it spreads, how it is best treated and the best standard of care for cancer survivors, according to Machen.

The participants signed a memorandum of understanding at the news conference. No financial details of the alliance were disclosed.

"We're looking for synergies," Kone said. "Our efforts will leverage their best assets and our best assets to deliver world-class care and discovery."

As part of this collaboration, Moffitt's Total Cancer Care, or TCC, model and approach to a cancer patient's care and treatment will be integrated with the cancer program at Shands at UF, renowned for its pioneering work in such areas as bone marrow transplantation and radiosurgery.

The TCC model is noteworthy for its emphasis on quality improvement, the needs of surviving family members, and tissue and data collection for the purpose of tailoring therapies for individual patients, Kone said.

Among the features of the TCC model are the development of a database of the latest clinical data and research findings that oncologists can use to tailor cancer treatment to their specific patients.

"We were already trying to advance our overall quality initiatives and this will galvanize that effort," Kone added. In addition, initial collaborations will include joint research, co-authored scientific publications, joint recruitment and philanthropy.

Under the agreement, an advisory board with representatives from all three parties will oversee the plan for collaborative cancer services. The CEO of Moffitt and the dean of the College of Medicine will appoint a center director.

The alliance coincides with planning for the $388-million cancer hospital being built by Shands HealthCare across Archer Road from Shands UF. It is scheduled to open in 2009.

In an arrangement that Shands CEO Tim Goldfarb calls "additive, not exclusive," cancer patients in the new hospital will gain access to large-scale clinical trials and state-of-the-art therapies much earlier than might have been the case.

Moffitt is one of only 39 cancer centers nationwide that has been designated as a comprehensive cancer care center by the National Cancer Institute, or NCI. These centers are noted for cancer research, clinical trials, prevention and cancer control efforts.

UF has sought to be designated an NCI center, as well.

Kone foresees the cooperative agreement with Moffitt allowing UF researchers more opportunities for NCI grants for collaborative projects.

Shands CEO Goldfarb sees the combination of UF, Shands and Moffitt as a potent prescription that will benefit all concerned.

"Frankly, in an economy like this, it pays to work together," Goldfarb noted.

Diane Chun can be reached at 352-374-5041 or chund@gvillesun.com

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top