Wilmot Cancer Center Launches $42.5M Comprehensive Campaign

Funds Support New Facility for Local Care, Research Collaboration

May 09, 2005

The James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center today began a $42.5 million comprehensive campaign to expand local cancer care and research programs, and construct a new building.

“Our vision is clear: We will take a leadership role in finding cures for cancer. All of our plans for the future of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center are driven by that singular goal,” says Richard I. Fisher, M.D., director of Wilmot Cancer Center and director, cancer services, Strong Health.

The five-year campaign includes construction of a 163,000-square-foot, four-story building and recruitment of 25 additional clinicians and scientists to expand research. To date, $15 million has been raised from community benefactors to support the effort, which is being led by campaign co-chairs Judy Wilmot Linehan of Mendon and James Ryan Jr., of Brighton.

The campaign will support the cancer center’s $65 million strategic plan, which includes construction of the building at the corner of Crittenden Boulevard and East Drive, serving as the southeast anchor to the URMC campus. The new building doubles the space for clinical and translational research.

Care for the Future

The strategic plan outlines the expansion of clinical and research programs, recruitment of more scientists and oncologists, the establishment of an endowment for the cancer center, and capturing the National Cancer Institute designation as a comprehensive cancer center.

“Cancer is one of the most prevalent and pervasive diseases that people face.  The Wilmot Cancer Center and University of Rochester Medical Center are committed to providing the best possible care for people in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region as well as conducting state-of-the-art research to bring new discoveries that will lead to cures,” says C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The new building and programs will allow people to stay close to home for the very best cancer care and accommodate a growing number of people from outside the region coming to Rochester for expert care.  The Wilmot Cancer Center has one of the largest clinical programs for lymphoma and leukemia in the Northeast and leads the nation in shaped-beam stereotactic radiosurgery to destroy tumors that were once considered untreatable.

“Our cancer center primarily serves the 16-county region to the east and west of Rochester,” says Fisher. “However, people from throughout the Northeast seek the expertise of our oncology specialists when they’re faced with this life-threatening disease.”

Collaborating for Cures

Cancer Center leaders and architects from Don Blair Architects and SWBR Architects are designing the new building to provide a more comfortable, private environment for patients and their families. The new space will allow the consolidation of medical oncology and radiation oncology areas, which are now located in different areas of the medical center.

Translational research laboratories – designed to bring discoveries from research labs to the patients’ bedsides – will be moved into the cancer center, allowing scientists and oncologists to talk about ideas, research and treatment outcomes.  This model has proven effective in the nation’s elite cancer centers.

“In recent history, many cancer breakthroughs are a result of scientists and doctors working together toward better treatments,” says Fisher.  “We are creating an environment that will foster greater ideas through cooperative research. We say ‘the cure starts here,’ and we mean it.”

Wilmot and URMC leaders have also set their sights on capturing the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation as one of the top cancer centers in the nation.

“When you build clinical and research programs that demonstrate leadership within the cancer field, the National Cancer Institute recognizes those contributions by funding additional research and designating the center as one of the best in the country,” says Fisher, who worked at the NCI from 1972-84.

Good Business

Finally, the expansion project would double the Wilmot Cancer Center’s current economic impact on the Finger Lakes region. A recent report from the Center for Governmental Research estimates the total number of jobs at the cancer center would increase to 1,200, with 700 additional indirect positions to support the operation.  That would increase the cancer center’s impact on the total regional payroll to $71 million. And, in the short-term, the construction phase would create 750 jobs.

“This project will bring important advancements for people with cancer today and in the future, but it’s also good business for the Rochester community,” says campaign co-chair Ryan, of Ryco Management.

“We expect that creating one of the top cancer centers in the nation will bring more research funding, jobs and spin-off biotechnology businesses in Rochester.  Health care and research are key to our local economy and this campaign will continue that growth,” Ryan says.

Linehan, whose father was James P. Wilmot, is co-chairing the campaign as part of her family’s commitment to advancing cancer care and research.  Her father established The James P. Wilmot Foundation, which funds fellowship training in cancer care and research.

The Wilmot Cancer Center is the leader in cancer care, research and education in the Finger Lakes region.  The team of 600 doctors, nurses, scientists and staff provide diagnosis and comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinical care for all forms of cancer.  With oncologists who specialize in each cancer working closely with scientists, nurses and staff, the Wilmot Cancer Center is dedicated to a single mission: to beat cancer.

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Leslie White
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