Road to National Cancer Institute Designation

By Marty Trieschmann

More than two-thirds of funds awarded by NCI for research and clinical trials go to NCI-designated centers. Designation also is expected to create 1,500 new jobs and have an economic impact of $72 million annually.

UAMS held the first in-person meeting of its External Advisory Board (EAB) in March with leaders from designated cancer centers, including the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Kansas Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and more.

The world-renowned Myeloma Center sets UAMS apart both in research and clinical care, making it the crown jewel of the translational science component of the NCI application.

Under the leadership of Director Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., the Cancer Institute has focused largely on recruiting top research and clinical talent from across the country, hiring 25 new researchers and seven oncologists in the last two years. These researchers will help broaden and deepen the institute’s research efforts with the goal of producing measurable clinical outcomes for patients.

Donors have contributed more than $20 million toward NCI-designation efforts. UAMS also has received amazing support from the Arkansas legislature with a new allocation of $50 million over two years to support NCI-designation efforts.

The launch of the Community Outreach and Engagement Program has expanded the Cancer Institute’s statewide reach. This program has already helped more than 1,000 people living in rural, underserved parts of the state.

This fall, UAMS took another big leap with the opening of the Proton Center of Arkansas, the state’s first and only provider of proton beam radiation therapy for children and adults with solid tumors.

As UAMS pushes forward to NCI designation, the Myeloma Center and other cancer programs will only grow in their impact on patient’s lives.