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More than $57 million will boost cancer services at GRU

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 5:17 PM
Last updated Wednesday, May 8, 2013 1:42 AM
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With a stroke of a pen Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal boosted cancer care in Georgia with more than $57 million for a new building and enhanced services at Georgia Regents University Cancer Center.

That money includes $45 million to help build a building that could bring an important national designation but also funding to establish outreach and prevention and fund clinical trials in new therapies discovered at the center, the director said.

The $45 million in general obligation bonds is part of the more than $200 million envisioned to build a cancer center that would be a critical step toward getting a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, the state’s second such center, Dr. Samir N. Khleif said.

The funding would “give us the green light to start working with architectural firms, with planners, to start to set the path forward,” he said.

The new building would provide a number of advantages, such as putting research and clinical care under one roof and having all of the research together, Khleif said.

“That would enhance tremendously the level of productivity for research, productivity for cancer care and most importantly to understand the disease of our patients in this region and develop specific treatments for them,” he said.

It would consolidate care that is now scattered across the campus, Khleif said.

“A breast cancer patient can go to 10 different places within the university campus to get care,” he said.

Included in the funding is $10 million this year to boost cancer research, which could include creating packages to aid recruitment but also help push along early-stage clinical trials stemming from insights garnered at the center that might not be available anywhere else in the country, Khleif said.

“It would help us in conducting clinical trials that are innovative, that are initiated by the cancer center, that are novel and new within the nation so that’s really very important,” he said.

Part of that money could also be used to help establish programs needed for NCI designation in cancer control and community outreach through education, awareness and prevention, Khleif said.

“You need to make connections with the community, clearly, you need to build the bridges, but also build the infrastructure,” he said.

One of the most intriguing in the new cancer funding is $2.5 million for the biorepository of tumor samples, a statewide program housed at GRU, that has been underused for years, Khleif said. The NCI has already appealed to the GRU biorepository for help in the past couple of months, he said.

“They are looking for tumor samples from African-American populations because they don’t have them,” Khleif said.

That could be a strength for the biorepository and also help it to address some key questions in health disparities, such as why black men are twice as likely to get prostate cancer as whites and three times more likely to die from it in Georgia, he said.

“That would absolutely help us in teasing out why that is the case, how we can prevent that from happening and are there any specific treatments we could utilize that could affect that particular incidence or mortality,” Khleif said.

Much more funding will need to be raised by GRU to complete the building and pursue many of the projects, but the big boost of funding and support from Deal was much appreciated, he said.

“He really gets it,” Khleif said. “He understands the importance of it. And his support is crucial.”

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WalterBradfordCannon 05/08/13 - 06:52 am
Cancer is already

Cancer is already oversupported in research and care by two to one over other common ailments, like Alzheimer's, or cardiac care. Let's throw more money at it and continue to ignore the age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer's and obesity epidemics that will throttle our health care system for the next 20 years.

scamp1 05/08/13 - 08:34 am
Governor gives and Azziz takes back

The $57 million for the cancer center is great for Augusta! But don't forget the $28 million already approved (architects, bond underwriters, etc. were already hired) by the BOR for an ASU nursing building on Wrightsboro Road that vanished with the hostile take over. Most - but not all - of the $2 million in design funds for the nursing building was spent on designs that were, I assume, tossed by Azziz. No one can say what happened to the rest of the design funds. The Governor gives $57 million, but $26 million of this was the rest of the ASU nursing building the Governor/Azziz took back and $2 million was on tossed designs. Oh yes, the city gave ASU land on Wrightsboro road across from the Aquatic center for the nursing building. Maybe they should take that back.

CricketSeranade 05/08/13 - 09:32 am
I guess we now know

Where the money for the new carport is coming from.

bentman 05/08/13 - 10:40 am
More play money for Azziz.

More play money for Azziz.

countyman 05/08/13 - 03:25 pm
Good news

''The $45 million in general obligation bonds is part of the more than $200 million envisioned to build a cancer center that would be a critical step toward getting a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, the state’s second such center, Dr. Samir N. Khleif said.''

Is the $200 million figure a misprint or the truth? The $100 million figure had been used so much lately in the public.

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