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Saturday, Sep 20, 2014
Commentary

Scott’s commitment to cancer research could be game-changer

Published:

Earlier this year, it was an honor to host Gov. Rick Scott at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute as he announced his groundbreaking proposal to invest $80 million in next year’s state budget for cancer research.

We believe this proposal, if approved, has the potential to bring Florida to the forefront of cancer research and treatment.

Cancer places a terrible burden on families in Florida, which ranks No. 2 in the country for cancer incidence and mortality. Scott understands not only how state investments in research have elevated Moffitt to a national leader, but also how further investments can continue to position us as a world-class cancer research institution.

We applaud the governor for his vision and commitment.

A critical component of the governor’s plan is increasing the number of Florida institutions that can attain the prestigious “Comprehensive Cancer Center” designation by the National Cancer Institute. This honor is awarded only to cancer centers demonstrating excellence in laboratory, clinical and population-based research, as well as transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas. Comprehensive cancer centers also must be committed to public education and outreach. This designation is held by only 41 centers in the United States.

Moffitt Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida. We’ve earned and maintained this designation thanks in part to our more than 400 clinical trials testing therapies guided by our basic research that have led to new, cutting-edge studies, including our recent groundbreaking success in the treatment of melanoma.

Moffitt is a pioneer in translating advances in the laboratory to new treatments that can be used at the patient’s bedside, offering a better chance for survival.

Another important factor in achieving this designation has been our role in training more students in the field of oncology than all other Florida institutions combined. We believe that training tomorrow’s workforce, whether in the clinic or the laboratory, is critical to advancing cancer care in our state.

The long-term funding of Gov. Scott’s proposal, which the House of Representatives has adopted, will promote significant, game-changing cancer research while providing resources to recruit and train the best and brightest physicians and scientists.

We recognize the need for broader access to the highest level of care for the about 115,000 Floridians who will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

Former Speaker of the House H. Lee Moffitt fought for the establishment of Moffitt Cancer Center as the state’s cancer center in the early 1980s after several friends who sought out-of-state cancer care lost their battles. The goal was to provide the highest standard of cancer care in our own backyard for all Floridians. His personal motto, “One person can make a difference,” inspires every one of us working at Moffitt.

The governor’s support of cancer research is critical to fulfilling our mission of contributing to the prevention and cure of cancer. We urge the Florida Senate to support this forward-thinking proposal, which we believe will improve the lives of Floridians impacted by this terrible disease.

Alan List, M.D., is the president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center, the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida. Moffitt is part of an elite group of programs that represents the strongest institutions in the nation dedicated to scientific innovation and excellence.

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