Governor Signs Funding for Cancer Center Expansion into Law

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Gov. Mike Beebe today signed into law a plan to provide up to $50 million in matching funds to build a major expansion of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) as well as support patient care and research programs.


Act 838 will provide matching funds to build and support a 288,000-square-foot expansion to the ACRC. The new law created a $36 million fund to provide a dollar-for-dollar match of private donations in support of the cancer center expansion and program endowments. When that commitment is met, UAMS can ask for $10 million in additional matching funds to be appropriated through the Governor’s discretionary funds in the state’s General Improvement Fund. UAMS can then allocate $4 million in funds from other projects as matching funds for the ACRC.


Lead sponsors of the legislation were Sens. Paul Bookout of Jonesboro and Bob Johnson of Bigelow and Rep. Eddie Cooper of Melbourne. The remaining 132 members of the Legislature, led by Senate President Pro Temp Jack Critcher of Batesville and House Speaker Benny Petrus of Stuttgart, were co-sponsors of Act 838. 


“This matching fund – together with gifts from donors – could provide as much as $100 million toward plans for a much-needed expansion to our cancer center,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “We appreciate the support of Gov. Beebe, our state legislators and supporters who have made possible a facility that will provide care for patients for many years to come as well as a home for researchers seeking new cancer treatments.”


Construction of the ACRC expansion is expected to start this year.


The expansion will not only add clinic and laboratory space, it will allow the expansion of research and treatment programs at the facility, which opened in 1989. ACRC 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 matching fund proposal attracted a $1 million pledge the day it was announced from longtime UAMS supporters Joe and Jo Ellen Ford of Little Rock. The Fords stepped forward with their pledge at the end of a March 1 news conference at the state Capitol to introduce the new director of the ACRC and discuss the funding proposal. As recognition of the Fords ongoing support for UAMS, the Senate recently approved Senate Resolution 20 (SR 20) recognizing their “leadership, service and financial support” in making Arkansas a “healthier and better place to live.”


Peter D. Emanuel, M.D., was named the new executive director for the ACRC, effective July 1. 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 and is a professor in the UAB Departments of Medicine, Genetics and Biochemistry.


The new law appropriating money for the matching fund followed Act 427, signed in March by Beebe, which created the fund and the matching requirements. Act 427 was sponsored by Bookout in the Senate and Cooper in the House. 


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