KU Cancer Center awarded NCI designation

July 13, 2012

Steven Stites, M.D.
Steven Stites, M.D. Acting Executive Vice Chancellor Acting Executive Dean, KU School of Medicine

During the more than 20 years I've worked at the University of Kansas Medical Center, I can safely say there hasn't been a week quite like this one.

By now, you have no doubt heard the wonderful news that The University of Kansas Cancer Center has been awarded designation as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer center. The formal announcement was made Thursday at a news conference attended by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, and a number of other federal and state dignitaries. Governor Sam Brownback, who was representing Kansas at the Farnborough International Air Show in the United Kingdom, sent his congratulations via video. And U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, who also sent his news conference comments via video so he could stay in Washington for floor votes, caught a plane as soon as he'd cast those votes and made it to Kansas City in time for the employee and community event at the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Care Pavilion in Westwood. My deepest thanks to everyone who joined us for yesterday's special celebration.

It was the culmination of a decade-long effort that brought top cancer researchers, access to advanced care and millions of dollars in cancer research funding to the region and inspired profound advances in the care of cancer patients. The designation will be another driver for greatness in our research, education and clinical missions. We recruited world-class scientists and created a Department of Cancer Biology. These distinguished faculty members will train future generations of oncologists and cancer researchers, building our expertise in translational research, clinical trials and basic science, along with cancer prevention and control.

So many people played roles in this great accomplishment, but none more so than the director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, Roy Jensen. He was recruited by KU Medical Center to help us achieve NCI designation, and his determination is the primary reason we were successful.

While we are celebrating our NCI designation this week, we are also bidding farewell to H. David Wilson, who announced this week that he will be leaving at the end of September to serve as a special assistant to the Dean for Educational Development at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

Wilson has served as dean of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita for the past three years during an extremely dynamic time in the 39-year history of that campus. He has overseen the Wichita campus' expansion to a full, four-year medical school program, increased research activity through recruiting several talented faculty members and promoting others, and strengthened ties to rural Kansas communities and colleges.

The KU School of Medicine-Wichita has benefited tremendously under Dean Wilson's leadership, and we are enormously grateful for his service. This month, 28 first-year students will begin their medical education in Wichita, and we remain fully committed to the four-year program.

Garold Minns, who is currently the associate dean for academic and student affairs on the Wichita campus, will assume the role of dean effective Aug. 1. Dean Wilson will remain through September to ensure a smooth transition.

On June 27, the Joy McCann Professor of Women in Medicine and Science, Susan Pingleton, M.D., hosted a dinner to honor Women Emeritus and Senior Professors in the School of Medicine. The distinguished group of senior women discussed how they could "give back" through a new project to help mentor and guide our junior and mid-level women faculty members. This dinner is the first time the women ever met as a group. 

A $31,000 gift from the government of Mexico for the University of Kansas Medical Center addresses health disparities of Latinos in the Kansas City area and in southwest Kansas. The gift will provide support for the medical center’s Juntos Center for Advancing Latino Health. Read more here.

The Lenexa Sertoma Club, a service organization that supports individuals with speech and hearing difficulties, recently held its ninth annual charity golf tournament and raised more than $3,000 to support the KU Department of Hearing and Speech's Hartley Family Center. The Hartley Family Center provides early intervention services to deaf and hearing-impaired children and their families at no cost.

Last modified: Jul 13, 2012
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