It’s no coincidence that Gov. Nathan Deal’s recent visit to Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta took place at our Cancer Center. The governor pledged $5 million in his 2012-13 budget and continues to reiterate his support of the GHSU Cancer Center becoming Georgia’s second National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.
Georgians diagnosed with cancer in the Atlanta area are fortunate to have convenient access to Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute, currently the state’s only NCI cancer center and home to many excellent physicians and scientists. However, not all Georgians can easily travel to seek specialized cancer care. Nor can a single institution serve all the needs of a state as large and diverse as Georgia.
Compared with similar-sized states in the Southeast, Georgia is underserved and receives far less funding for cancer research and clinical trials from the federal government. For example, Georgia and North Carolina are almost identical in size, but North Carolina has three NCI cancer centers and receives three times more NCI research funding than Georgia.
WHILE NCI designation is our goal, even more important is our journey, which will result in the following benefits for the state:
Novel therapies and better prevention strategies based on GHSU research into cancer’s biology;
More clinical trials, providing new hope to Georgians with aggressive disease;
Community prevention programs based on a better understanding of the behaviors of diverse Georgians that increase the risk of cancer;
A steady stream of talented researchers coming to Georgia from across the globe;
A greater economic impact to the state, adding jobs, stimulating the creation and attraction of innovative biopharmaceutical and medical device companies, and enhancing scientific discovery.
Our journey toward NCI designation has already begun. We are building on current strengths, translating laboratory discoveries into clinical benefits and emphasizing multidisciplinary, patient and family-centered care. And we are building on the already-voiced support and partnership of community and state-based institutions as well as the leadership of this state.
FROM ROME to Valdosta to Savannah, our goal is to achieve excellence in cancer care that — combined with strong research and innovation — benefits citizens throughout Georgia and beyond.
Our “cancer community” is comprised of health care workers, scientists, the business community, our political leaders and — most importantly — you! I cannot overstate the importance of your awareness and support. As GHSU works to become the state’s second NCI-designated cancer center, we urge you to become an active partner in helping to reduce the burden of this disease in Georgia. We need your support, and we are counting on you.
Dr. Samir N. Khleif came to Georgia Health Sciences University after a 22-year career with the National Institutes of Health as a cancer researcher. He is director of the GHSU Cancer Center.