On July 1, 2002, we became a National Cancer Institute-designated
cancer center, a culmination of some 12 years of work and a $70
million investment by the health system.
Now, we must deliver. We must make cancer a priority in all aspects
of academic life within our university. We must use our new stature
to attract and retain the brightest and best of students, postgraduate
researchers, residents, physicians, nurses and allied health professionals.
For our city, we hope designation will bring with it financial opportunities
for growth. For our regional cancer centers, designation gives assurance
that they have joined with the best. For our patients, one of the
most direct and immediate benefits of NCI designation is increased
access to clinical trials. In most community hospitals, the only
clinical trials offered are phase III trials — studies that
typically compare one known treatment to another known treatment.
As an NCI-designated cancer center, we are able to offer not only
phase III trials but also phase I and II trials — studies
that assess brand-new chemotherapeutic agents. David Gandara is
the director of our clinical research program. If a standard treatment
fails, he ensures that second- and even third-line therapies are
available to our patients through our vigorous clinical trials program.
NCI designation will also mean a stronger cancer prevention effort.
We are delighted to welcome Moon Chen, who, with Jim Felton of Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory, will lead the UC Davis Cancer Prevention
and Control Program. An expert on cancer in minority populations,
Chen arrived at UC Davis Cancer Center just as Time magazine named
Sacramento the most integrated major city in the country. Chen and
Felton will combine the great strengths of Lawrence Livermore with
those of UC Davis, drawing especially on the talents of our Department
of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. The tremendous resources
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Western Human Nutrition
Research Center at UC Davis and the California Department of Health
Services will also be harnessed, creating one of the most formidable
cancer control programs in the country.
We are one of only 61 cancer centers to earn NCI designation in
the last 31 years. Designation requires preeminence in cancer research,
excellence in patient care and distinction in community outreach.
While many centers can excel in one or even two of these areas,
the rarity of designation is due to the difficulty in excelling
in them all.
It is my pleasure to thank all of you for having made this possible.
My pledge to you is that the promises of NCI designation will translate
into benefits for all within our community.
Ralph W. deVere White, MD
Director, UC Davis Cancer Center
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