Take a look only at the financial bottom line and here’s what it will mean when the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) achieves NCI Designated Cancer Center status:
- 9,400 new and permanent jobs;
- $1.3 billion in annual benefits, through construction, licensing revenues, and cancer mortality reductions;
- Federal research grants to KUMC’s Cancer Center would grow from $43 million to $80 million annually. *
Most importantly, it would mean our residents, friends, and neighbors could stay in Kansas City to get the highest quality care in the country. I remember when a UMB associate who contracted cancer had to travel regularly to MD Anderson. I recall with vividness the additional financial, emotional and clinical challenges it created for him and his family. This should not be necessary when we have KU Medical Center right here in our community. And with a little luck, and a lot of hard work this situation will change over the next few years.
What is NCI Designation?
National Cancer Institute Designation is the gold standard in cancer research. It’s given to those institutions that are national leaders in research, treatment, and education. And it’s not an easy designation to achieve.
KUMC began its efforts toward NCI designation in 2004. Plans are to formally apply in September 2011, with a goal of earning the designation by spring 2012.
The Med Center is certainly on its way. According to the Five-Year Update to the Community Foundation’s Time to Get It Right plan, KUMC has increased the level of its sponsored research support by 29 percent, expanded its faculty and graduate student ranks, and developed important research and training affiliation agreements with other major medical centers in the Kansas City area.
The report concludes: “KUMC remains on track to apply for and achieve NCI Designated Cancer Center status in the next several years.”
How is business involved?
Because of the importance of this designation for the entire metropolitan region, rivalries between other hospitals have been put aside to make this a reality. Hospitals, foundations, corporations, and civic organizations all recognize the benefits NCI designation would bring to our community.
The Chamber is one of those civic organizations doing its part. And it fits perfectly with the three goals of our 2010 Strategic Plan:
Job Creation: 9,400 new jobs over the next 10 years. That’s a goal we can all support. Right now, The Chamber is partnering with the Full Employment Council to help develop new workers for this burgeoning field. (Details to come.)
Advocacy and Collaboration: As the voice of Kansas City area business, The Chamber has put our considerable advocacy efforts behind the NCI designation effort. But we’re not alone – the Civic Council, Kansas City Area Development Council, and others are working toward the same goal.
Quality of Life: This is a no-brainer. NCI designation means leading-edge research and technology will be close at hand and readily available to those who are suffering from cancer. It means those patients can participate in early clinical trials testing new treatments. And it means they can get the care they need at home.
NCI designation is an important part of the (again) collaborative and overall effort to grow the region’s life sciences. Combined with the resources of the Stowers Institute and the KC Animal Health Corridor, NCI designation will provide a significant step forward for our community. I hope you will do whatever you can to support the effort.
*Perryman Group, 2005