fifteen hundred Americans die of cancer every day.
has been hit especially hard with breast, cervical, prostate,
lung, and colon cancers, particularly among its poor and minority
residents. But the state remains the largest in the nation without
a federal cancer center.
Cancer Institute (WCI) is aiming to be the first.
summer, the institute moved into a state-of-the-art, $75-million
building on Uppergate Drive behind Emory Clinic A. The first
four levels provide patient care and services; the top three
floors are dedicated to research.
Institute, which disperses federal funds for cancer research,
turned down Emorys initial request to become a comprehensive
cancer center in 1996.
subsequent improvementsincluding the WCIs new home,
an expanded mission that includes prevention and education,
dozens of additional faculty, and a 400 percent jump in federal
grants in the past three yearsthe University is moving
confidently toward a second attempt.
So far, signs are promising: in September, Emory received a
five-year, $1.9 million federal planning grant, which helps
promising cancer centers strengthen their research programs.
This success is due, in part, to Jonathan Simons, formerly a
prostate cancer researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,
who took the helm of the WCI in 2001.
recruited prestigious researchers and clinicians to Emory from
the best-known cancer facilities in the countryM.D. Anderson
at the University of Texas, the University of Virginia, Harvard,
Johns Hopkins, and the National Cancer Institute. The scholars
were wooed with support from the Georgia Cancer Coalition, a
$1 billion public-private effort to boost cancer research financed
by the states tobacco settlement funds, private money,
and federal grants.
new building in which these researchers will work is a discovery
accelerator, says Simons, where all of the WCIs
collective brain power can mingle. Each of the research floors
has an open lab as long as a football field in the center, surrounded
by faculty offices. Translational researchtaking ideas
from the drawing board to the patients bedsideis
what the new facility is all about.
WCI brings clinical services under one roof as well: radiation
oncology and imaging, bone marrow transplant clinic, ambulatory
infusion center, breast imaging center, medical and surgical
oncology department and exam rooms. There is also a cafe, counseling
center, and chapel.
have designed the new Winship Cancer Institute as a pavilion,
says Simons, in which patients with cancer, their families,
physicians, nurses, and researchers are all brought together
under one roof.
WCI was established in 1937 with a gift from Robert W. Woodruff,
and is made up of more than two hundred Emory School of Medicine
faculty. WCI researchers have been awarded several substantial
grants recently, the largest of which was $10 million from the
Department of Defense to fund a prostate cancer research consortium.
Through Web-based videoconferencing and data sharing technologies,
investigators from thirteen universities in eight states will
work together as if they were all in one giant laboratory,
and the WCI are involved in several other efforts to improve
treatment and decrease cancer rates in Georgia. In March, the
states first Cancer Center for Excellence opened a $31.3
million facility on two remodeled floors of Grady Memorial Hospital
in downtown Atlanta, staffed largely by Emory doctors and researchers.
The Georgia Cancer Coalition donated $28 million toward creating
the center, and the Avon Foundation donated $3 million toward
its breast health system.
the first of four regional cancer centers planned by the Georgia
Cancer Coalition, the center will strive to lower the disproportionate
number of cancer deaths among African Americans and the poor.
believe that a big part of the reason these disparities exist
is in the quality of care received, says Otis Brawley,
director of the Grady cancer center and associate director for
cancer control at the WCI. Were trying to find the
best way to provide good, adequate care to a population that
has not received it in the past. We are trying to answer some
basic questions that have gone unanswered for too long.
M.E. Johns, executive vice president for health affairs and
director of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, says Georgia
clearly needed a stellar cancer research and treatment center,
and he is gratified that one now exists at Emory.
opening of the new Winship Cancer Institute building is a very
special moment for Emory, for everyone involved, and for our
patients, Johns says. This building is a symbol
for usit represents the long road we took to arrive here,
and the long road ahead of us. Here, the patient is really at
the center of our efforts.M.J.L.