ASU-UA cancer center project moving forward

Cancer Center Downtown
DOWN WITH CANCER: A $140 million joint cancer center, to be operated by ASU and UA, is being planned on or near the Phoenix Biomedical Center. (Photo by Molly Smith)
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010
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The relationship between UA and ASU is expected to grow as plans for the construction of a $140 million cancer center in downtown Phoenix develop, officials said.

The Arizona Cancer Center is looking to expand and is working with the city to develop a 250,000-square-foot structure on or near the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a shared campus between ASU and UA.

Dr. Thomas Brown, the cancer center’s chief operating officer, said the final project, set to be completed by early 2013, will allow more opportunities for cross-town cooperation.

“The challenges in cancer medicine make it important to collaborate across traditional boundaries,” Brown said.

By relocating to Phoenix, the cancer center will have opportunities to work with researchers from cancer-fighting organizations like the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the International Genomics Consortium (IGC).

Brown said the addition would greatly improve cancer treatment in Phoenix. The facility is set to have nursing, pharmacy, outpatient surgery, chemotherapy, clinical research trials and other supportive surgery.

“Cancer is a challenge that’s enormous and requires all hands on deck,” Brown said.

Of the more than 1.3 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in the U.S. in 2005, about 23,000 were in Arizona, according to the latest statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Linda Larkey, a researcher at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at the Downtown campus, primarily works with cancer prevention and screening methods in underserved populations. She moved from the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson to ASU about a year ago to continue her research.

“There are already research collaborations and people working together on community health promotion projects,” Larkey said. “The cancer center moving up here adds more potential to it.”

There are links between the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and UA for a bio-behavioral and social sciences research program at the Arizona Cancer Center, she said.

“I expect we’ll be doing more diet, physical activity and cancer prevention [work],” Larkey said.

Al Bravo, a spokesman for the UA medical school, said the financing for the cancer center hasn’t been officially secured yet, nor has the location.

“I think this is just the first step. They have to go and find some of the ways of financing,” he said. “They want to be on this [Phoenix Biomedical] campus.”

The Arizona Cancer Center sees a need for cancer treatment and research in Phoenix, because it’s the state’s population center, he said.

“In Tucson they reach a lot of folks, but you have four times as many people in Phoenix,” Bravo said.

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