In a major milestone for cancer research in the Southwest, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center today opened a $1 million Investigational Cancer Therapeutics Research Unit on the Banner Gateway Medical Center campus.
Pamela Ballard, Clinical Administrative Director; Lamont Yoder, CEO, Banner Gateway Medical Center & Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center; Darren McCollem, Regional Director of Radiation Oncology and Amanda Jarvie, RN, Associate Director of Infusion (l-r)
The specialized space will benefit cancer patients enrolled in first-in-human and early therapeautic trials requiring close monitoring during study treatments, and expands the capacity for conducting innovative clinical research. This research will further the promising field of personalized medicine, and shorten the time between discovery of new therapies and their application to patients who need them, which is critical to saving lives.
“With this unit, Banner MD Anderson is furthering its position to become the premier clinical cancer research program in Phoenix and throughout the southwest,” said Dr. Tomislav Dragovich, division chief of clinical research at Banner MD Anderson.
The project involved building out the new 2,852-square-foot unit in an existing shelled area at Banner MD Anderson. Construction, led by McCarthy Building Companies, included infusion bays, space for phlebotomy and tissue sample collection and processing, exam rooms, a minor procedure room, and administration and support space.
Charitable support played an important role in making this unit possible, including a lead gift from the Hearst Foundations and ongoing fundraising efforts by the Canyon Vistas and Montesa RV Resort Communities. More than 500 community donors contributed. McCarthy provided pro bono construction services with in-kind contributions from trade partners, including TD Industries, AROK, Foothills Fire Protection, Norman S. Wright, Arizona Air Balance, Climatec and Premier Mechanical Insulation.
“It was an honor to be able to support this important cancer research expansion project in collaboration with the Banner Health Foundation and Banner MD Anderson," said Kurt Radtke, project director at McCarthy Building Companies. "We are grateful to our trade partners who also contributed significant in-kind donations, so together we could reduce construction costs for the project by nearly 30%. It's very rewarding to know that our contributions will help ensure that the community benefits from the remarkable work that will be done here."
The unit will address the most pressing challenges in oncology research by providing eligible patients access to scientifically promising treatment options in a safe and caring place.
“The new Research Infusion Unit demonstrates once again our commitment to excellence in clinical research and positions Banner MD Anderson as the premier research program in Arizona,” said Dr. Rogerio Lilenbaum, director of Banner MD Anderson.
Collaborative projects will involve experts from Banner MD Anderson, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and other national and regional academic and community partners.
Located in Gilbert, Banner MD Anderson’s Clinical Research Division started in 2015 with a few staff and a small number of eager clinical investigators. More than 1,200 patients have participated in clinical trials since 2016, and about 185 clinical trials have opened since that time. Five of these trials translated into new cancer drug approval by the Federal Drug Administration.
Some 15 million Americans with a history of cancer are alive today, thanks to improvements in diagnosis and treatment. More than 170 drugs are now available to fight cancer, and most have been approved within the last 10 years.