December 7, 2000 
 
Contact: Keith Ayers, USA Director of Public Relations
Kayers@usouthal.edu   (251) 460-6211

 
USA Creates Regional Cancer Research Institute
 
The University of South Alabama has created a cancer research institute to improve treatment and prevention of cancer and to provide greater local access to state-of-the-art cancer treatment.

USA’s Board of Trustees today unanimously approved the institute, the largest research endeavor in the University’s 37-year history and the first institute of its type in the upper Gulf Coast region.

“This is one of the most important initiatives in the history of the University of South Alabama, and perhaps in the health care of the Gulf Coast region,” said USA President Gordon Moulton.

“Through the USA Cancer Institute, we hope to serve the people of the Mobile region with the most advanced research and treatment possible, which will ultimately lead to people living longer, healthier lives,” Moulton said.

“Our goals are to find new and more effective ways of preventing and treating cancer and to treat greater varieties of cancer here in Mobile, so people can receive treatment close to home,” he added.

“Cancer patients and their families do best when they can get well-coordinated care, and the USA Cancer Institute will work to provide the most appropriate and up-to-date treatment for the patient in the most efficient way.”

“The USA Cancer Institute plans to partner with hospitals and physicians in our community to provide the best possible outcome for people who are fighting cancer,” added Dr. Robert Kreisberg, interim vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine.

Primary objectives of the USA Cancer Institute will be to conduct early testing of the newest and most promising anti-cancer drugs, in addition to continuing to perfect more established treatments involving existing drugs, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. USA scientists will also seek to better understand the basic mechanisms and biology of cancer to prevent and better treat the disease. The center will also advocate cancer prevention and education. The center will pursue designation as a National Cancer Institutes cancer center, which would lead to additional exposure and research funding.

The institute will be funded initially by federal appropriations, funds from the University’s recent court settlement with tobacco companies, the University’s endowment, and research contracts and grants. Moulton said the institute could involve the creation of some 600 jobs over the next five years.

Moulton said a director for the new institute will be hired in the near future and that additional personnel would be added to the existing USA faculty in cancer-related fields. The center will be located at USA’s Knollwood Hospital campus, and involve other units within the USA Health System – the USA College of Medicine, USA Medical Center, and USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.

A board of visitors will be developed to encourage community involvement and allow input into the development of the institute.

“We believe this center will have a significant economic impact for Mobile, attracting patients from the surrounding areas, creating high tech jobs and providing up to $50 million for the local economy over the next five years,” Moulton said.

“There’s also great potential for creating new products, companies and jobs from patents and new medical technology that is developed at the USA Cancer Institute,” Moulton added.

The USA Cancer Institute is expected to serve an area of 42 Gulf Coast counties in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, representing more than 2.5 million people who have no comprehensive academic-level cancer center or research institute. This is despite the fact that these counties generated an estimated 12,500 new cancer cases in 1998 alone and have a substantially higher cancer death rate (231.8 cancer deaths per 100,000 persons) than the U.S. as a whole (172 cancer deaths per 100,000 persons), according to state and federal statistics. Almost 6,000 persons died of cancer in the service area in 1997 alone.

Mobile County in 1998 reported 910 cancer deaths, representing a rate of 235 deaths per 100,000 people. Baldwin County in 1998 reported 307 cancer deaths, a rate of 270 deaths per 100,000 people. Both counties were well above the national average in cancer death rates. Mobile County in 1997 reported about 1,800 new cancer cases, while Baldwin reported about 500.
 
USA Cancer Institute
 
• First academic cancer research institute in the upper Gulf Coast region.
 
• Will provide patients with greater local access to state-of-the-art cancer treatment, including participation in latest developing drug therapies.
 
• Conduct research on new cancer drugs and treatment techniques.
 
• Provide single location for coordinated comprehensive cancer care – prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research.
 
• Largest research effort in USA history.
 
• Located at USA Knollwood Hospital and will involve entire USA Health System: USA College of Medicine, USA Medical Center, and USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.
 
• Funded through tobacco settlement funds, federal appropriations, competitive contracts and grants, and USA Foundation, with expected investment of $65 million in the first five years.
 
• Goal to become a National Cancer Institutes cancer center, bringing national visibility and research funding.
 
• Work closely with local hospitals and physicians.
 
• Positive local economic impact by attracting patients, creating jobs, and creating new products and related biotechnology businesses.

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