UAMS Unveils $130 Million Cancer Institute Expansion

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jul. 12, 2010 12:00 am  

Dr. Peter Emanuel, the executive director of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences? Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, said he hopes the center becomes a world leader in the treatment of six to eight cancers.

On July 30, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will officially unveil its latest jewel in its massive campus overhaul project: a $130 million, 12-floor expansion of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

The 330,000-SF addition marks the second-largest completed construction job at UAMS' medical campus that includes the centerpiece of the facelift, a 10-floor, $200 million hospital, which opened last year. Since 2004, UAMS has spent $400 million on construction projects on its campus.

The Cancer Institute expansion connects to the existing 11-story, approximately 200,000-SF Cancer Institute building, which didn't have the space to treat more cancer patients or to conduct research, said Dr. Peter Emanuel, the executive director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. The Cancer Institute was renamed in 2007 for the late lieutenant governor. Rockefeller died in 2006 from a rare bone marrow disease. It had been known as the Arkansas Cancer Research Center.

"They actually ran out of room in 2004," Emanuel said recently as he gave Arkansas Business an exclusive look at the new building, which features a flood of natural light.

If the expansion hadn't been undertaken, Emanuel said, "things would have slowly dwindled. ... We would have lost faculty because they would have been recruited away to places that are building new buildings like this. And we had less and less capacity to take care of the new cancer patients because we didn't have the space."

For UAMS' fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, the latest figures available, the Cancer Institute saw 134,000 patients. In fiscal 2007, there were 120,000 patient visits and 75,000 in 2000.

The new building will be used as a recruiting tool, and Emanuel expects to add about a dozen researchers during the next 18 months, which will mean about 80 new jobs with the support staff that the scientists need.

Emanuel said he hoped the Cancer Institute becomes a world leader in the treatment of six to eight cancers.

"Right now we're world-class in multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer," he said. Patients from all over the world come to UAMS for treatment of that cancer.

The Cancer Institute also is renowned for the treatment of breast cancer, Emanuel said. And the Cancer Institute recently assembled a team to study lung cancer, which claims the lives of about 2,000 Arkansans annually, making it the biggest cancer killer in the state. Lung cancer kills more Arkansans than breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer combined, he said.

"So we need to address that," Emanuel said.

Other cancers that will be targeted include leukemia and lymphoma, colon and prostate cancer.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.