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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona Cancer Center awarded $2M gift to hire more faculty

Annie Marum
AAnnie Marum / Arizona Daily Wildcat Research specialist Lee Wisner works in a lab at the Arizona Cancer Center at UMC Thursday. The center was awarded a $2 million gift from the Prescott-based Del E. Webb Foundation to hire a new cancer researchers and doctors at a planned Phoenix clinic.

The Arizona Cancer Center received a $2 million gift from the Del E. Webb Foundation to hire faculty for its new Phoenix facility.

The Arizona Cancer Center in Phoenix is scheduled to open at St. Joseph’s Hospital by mid-July of 2011 and plans to hire four medical oncologists and two radiation oncologists within the first year, according to a press release.

A 250,000-square-foot, multi-story facility will be constructed by 2013.

“”It’s something that’s really, really worthy,”” said Larry Johnson, president of the Del E. Webb Foundation. “”It’s something that is absolutely needed in the valley.””

By hiring staff in Phoenix, people living in other towns who need treatment will not have to drive all the way to Tucson, he said.

“”What we’re trying to do is not treat the symptoms, but find cures,”” Johnson said.

Officials from the center said the donation would provide them with the assistance they need to maintain faculty.

“”It means a tremendous amount to us. It’s more than just the money,”” said Dr. David S. Alberts, the director of the Arizona Cancer Center. “”The Del E. Webb Foundation is a very prestigious philanthropic foundation.””

The money from the foundation will provide $500,000 a year for four years to develop faculty and staff, Alberts said. After the four years, the center will need to have other funding sources, he said.

“”Part of the process for us deciding to do it has a lot to do with leadership, because you can have a great organization with lousy leadership and nothing goes anywhere,”” Johnson said. “”Dave Alberts has been there for a very long time and he lives and breathes all of this stuff, he is an excellent director for that.””

The center plans to hire up to 100 oncologists of different types during the next 10 years, Alberts said.

“”We’ll be building a powerful clinical research capability,”” he said.

The staff generates funds by doing clinical research and seeing patients, he said. There are many teams at the center that treat and research a wide variety of cancers, such as lymphoma, lung, breast and prostate. Every one of the teams has surgical, medical and radiation oncologists.

“”The quality of the people dealing with your illness makes a big, big difference,”” Johnson said. “”This is basically several teams of people that have been working together for a long time and produced very, very good results.””

There have been clinical research offices in the Phoenix metropolitan area for more than 25 years, Alberts said. Since 1978, the Arizona Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive center in the Southwest, he said.

“”We also have one of the top-five cancer prevention and control research programs in the country,”” Alberts said.

The outreach and education programs in Tucson will also be brought to the new facility.

“”To be a comprehensive cancer center, you have to be outstanding in research, training, education, treatment, prevention and outreach,”” he said.

The Arizona Cancer Center is in partnership with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Catholic Healthcare West, according to Alberts.

“”We’re thrilled to have that partnership and we’re building something really special together,”” Alberts said.

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