Peter D. Emanuel, M.D., Named UAMS Cancer Center Director

By todd

Emanuel’s appointment was announced today at a news conference at the state Capitol. He will assume duties on July 1, replacing James Y. Suen, M.D., who has served as center executive director since 2001.

“Dr. Emanuel has the strong leadership experience needed to lead the ACRC through this critical period of growth,” said I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., UAMS chancellor. “He will be an outstanding addition to the ACRC, particularly as we look forward to its upcoming expansion of our treatment and research facilities.”

Also at the news conference, Joe Ford, chairman of the board of Alltel Corp. and a state senator from 1967 to 1982, said he and his wife, Jo Ellen, would donate $1 million to the ACRC expansion.

Suen, a world-renowned head and neck surgeon, was one of the co-founders of the ACRC, which opened in 1989. He also serves as chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine. Stepping down as executive director of the ACRC will allow him to devote more time to the chairmanship as well as to his busy surgical practice.

Emanuel comes to the ACRC from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where he served as acting director of its Comprehensive Cancer Center from 2004-2006. He also is a professor in the UAB Departments of Medicine, Genetics and Biochemistry.

As director of the ACRC, Emanuel will lead all cancer-related activities for UAMS, whose cancer clinics reported more than 113,000 patient visits during the last fiscal year. There are more than 145 UAMS faculty members engaged in cancer-related activities.

“The previous directors of the ACRC — Dr. Kent Westbrook, Dr. Bart Barlogie and Dr. James Suen — have built a wonderful base and infrastructure,” Emanuel said. “Now, it is time to recruit a number of additional researchers and clinicians to enhance the base that they established.

“The planning for the building addition to the ACRC is well under way. This new research and clinic space is absolutely essential if we are to recruit faculty to enhance the current expertise. I believe the ACRC is very well poised to make a huge leap forward at a time when other academic centers are struggling to maintain the status quo.”

Emanuel has received continuous funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1992.  His laboratory research efforts are funded by nearly $1 million annually from the NIH. He is internationally recognized for treating both pediatric and adult forms of leukemia. His bench to bedside research approach for a rare pediatric leukemia is a model for research into many other cancers.
“With the appointment of Dr. Emanuel, we are confident that the ACRC is in very capable hands going forward,” Suen said. “His ability to maintain a significant level of federal funding speaks to his commitment and the high quality of his research.”

In addition to Emanuel’s appointment, a bill has been introduced in the Arkansas Senate to create the UAMS Cancer Research Center Matching Fund to fund construction and endowments for the center. A 288,000-square-foot expansion to the ACRC is expected to begin this year and is part of UAMS’ $325 million comprehensive campaign.

Senate Bill 381 is sponsored by Sen. Paul Bookout of Jonesboro and would create a fund to match private donations 1:1. Rep. Eddie Cooper of Melbourne, chairman of the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee, is the lead sponsor in the House.

“My father was treated at UAMS for an aggressive form of lymphoma,” Bookout said. “Although he lost his battle, we are so appreciative of the fact that he could receive quality care right here in Arkansas. People who are unable to receive treatment close to home bear not only a huge financial burden, but also the emotional strain of being separated from friends and family.”

“The ability for Arkansans to take $50 million from the state, double it through a match from private donations, and then turn that into a premier cancer center is an opportunity that I doubt I will ever see again,” said Sen. Jack Critcher, Senate president pro tem. “The economic impact of the cancer center and our ability to recruit the finest researchers and physicians will have dramatic and far-reaching effects on Arkansas’ future.” 

“Arkansans deserve the best medical care possible and they need to be able to receive it close to home,” said Cooper. “The expansion of the ACRC will not only add clinic and laboratory space, it will allow the expansion of research and treatment programs to ensure Arkansans don’t have to leave the state for treatment.”

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,430 students and 715 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,400 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. For more information, visit