The University of Kansas Cancer Center has received a $100 million lead gift from the Sunderland Foundation to help build a new cancer center in Kansas City, Kansas.
According to a news release from the KU Medical Center, the donation is the largest gift ever received by the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Health System. It’s also the largest donation ever made by the Sunderland Foundation, a Kansas City-based family foundation founded by Lester Sunderland in 1945.
The Sunderland gift brings the total in new funding for the facility to $143 million. Earlier in the year, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, announced that he had secured $43 million in a congressional earmark to help pay for the new facility.
“We believe The University of Kansas Cancer Center is poised to change cancer research and care for generations,” said Charlie Sunderland, trustee of the Sunderland Foundation and former chair of The University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board’s Quality Committee, in the release. “Giving people the opportunity to receive such a high level of quality cancer treatment close to home is a gift like no other. I’m grateful for the foundation’s role in making this possible.”
Senator Moran added, “the KU Cancer Center is already a nationally recognized leader in the fight to treat and cure cancer. With a new, state-of-the-art cancer center, The University of Kansas Cancer Center can expand its legacy and capabilities to conduct a greater number of innovative research projects, which will undoubtedly lead to improved treatments for patients.”
Currently, the labs and investigators at KU’s Cancer Center are scattered across multiple campuses in the Kansas City area and Lawrence, Kansas. The planned center will allow the university to consolidate research and patient care as part of its National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center, one of 72 such centers in the nation.
NCI recognizes those cancer centers “that meet rigorous standards for transdisciplinary, state-of-the-art research focused on developing new and better approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.” According to Dr. Roy Jensen, vice chancellor and director of the KU Cancer Center, patients treated at NCI-designated cancer centers have a 25% greater chance of survival compared to other cancer centers.
Plans call for the new center to be built in phases, with the goal of breaking ground on the first phase in the fall of 2024 at the earliest, bringing expanded cancer therapies and multiple lines of collaborative research by KU specialists together in one place. The KU health system will build the new center on its current campus at 39th Street and Rainbow Boulevard.
Commenting on the gift, University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod, M.D., said that “the funding provided by the Sunderland Foundation, combined with the appropriation secured by Senator Moran, will enable the KU Cancer Center to enhance its work in research and patient care while fulfilling its duty to provide public education and outreach programs, especially to diverse communities and high-risk populations.”
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