KU Medical Center opens unique clinical research center
January 31, 2012
By KUMC News
Fairway, Kan. — In a move that offers new hope for patients with cancer and other diseases, University of Kansas and Johnson County leaders today celebrate the opening of KU's new Clinical Research Center. Located at 4350 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Fairway, the KU Clinical Research Center is the northern point of the Johnson County Education Research Triangle and is funded by a one-eighth-cent sales tax approved by county voters in 2008.
The building opened to patients on January 23. One floor is dedicated to early phase clinical trials of cancer drugs — the trial phase where potential drugs are first tested in humans. By participating in these trials, cancer patients will have access to promising new therapies. KU scientists are known for developing new cancer drugs, and now those drugs can be tested in a state-of-the-art facility designed specifically for these early phase trials, which are more labor-intensive than later-phase trials. The center provides a rare opportunity for close interaction among the scientists who design the studies, the patients who participate in the trials and the lab researchers who determine how well the drugs are working.
The sales tax that funds this research is unique, and few places in the country have facilities dedicated solely to this type of science. "The people of Johnson County have done an amazing thing," said Barbara Atkinson, MD, Executive Vice Chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center. "We know that KU scientists are among the nation's leaders in drug development. This building provides a place where our patients can have access to the latest new therapies while, at the same time, helping to improve treatments and find cures for future generations."
"Johnson County voters were truly forward-thinking when they approved this extraordinary public investment in research that will save lives and help build healthy communities," said University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. "We receive world-class community support, and with that foundation, we will conduct world-class scientific research."
In addition to testing newly developed cancer drugs, KU scientists will test drugs that were originally developed for other uses but have been repurposed by KU scientists to fight cancer.
The building will also provide a headquarters for the Midwest Cancer Alliance, a network of 15 hospitals and universities united to bring leading-edge clinical trials, screening tools and educational opportunities to the region.
Later-phase clinical trials for a wide range of promising new treatments will be offered through Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, a regional, multi-institutional effort that is part of a national network to speed the transformation of laboratory discoveries into treatments and cures. Patients will also have access to all phases of clinical trials through the new KU Alzheimer's Disease Center, which earned designation in August 2011 as one of just 29 national Alzheimer's Disease Centers.
Other points on the Johnson County Education Research Triangle include the University of Kansas Edwards Campus in Overland Park, where the Business, Education, Science and Technology (BEST) Building is scheduled to open March 2, and the Kansas State University International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute in Olathe, which opened in April 2011. The tax that supports these institutions is expected to generate approximately $15 million annually, to be split evenly between each campus. The 82,400 square-foot KU Clinical Research Center is located in a renovated building that was part of an $18 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation to The University of Kansas Cancer Center.