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Building on basics

NCI Designation Achieved

NCI designation was announced at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2002 — a date proclaimed by Davis as “UC Davis Cancer Center Day” in California.

The drive for designation demanded a decade of overtime on the part of cancer center faculty and staff. The effort included recruiting 35 new research scientists, constructing a 52,000-square-foot cancer treatment center and, nearby, raising a 50,000-square-foot cancer research laboratory. It also included striking a research partnership with scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the largest collaboration of its kind in the nation. The effort resulted in a cancer research budget of nearly $62 million and a cancer research program consisting of more than 200 scientists.
Andrew C. von Eschenbach, director of the NCI, sent a personal note of congratulations: “UC Davis Cancer Center,” he said, “represents an enormous asset and resource.”

Congress created the Cancer Centers Branch of the National Cancer Institute in 1971, as part of the nation’s newly declared war on cancer. The branch was charged with developing a network of distinguished cancer-research organizations capable of leading the new war. Designated cancer centers would be first in line for federal cancer research dollars. In return, they would collaborate with one another, share knowledge and resources, and make themselves accountable to the National Cancer Institute and to Congress.

Over the last 30 years, the NCI Cancer Centers Branch has designated cancer centers in 32 states, primarily on the East Coast. UC Davis Cancer Center is the ninth NCI-designated cancer center in California, and the only one between San Francisco and Portland, Ore. Besides prestige, the designation also brings a $1.2 million grant for each of the next three years, with the potential for additional grants worth as much as $20 million a year after that.

A first step in winning designation was the appointment of Ralph W. deVere White as director of the UC Davis Cancer Center. The Irish-born surgeon and scientist fulfilled NCI requirements that designated centers be headed by individuals with demonstrated excellence in both administrative and scientific leadership.


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