VCU Massey Cancer Center gets $5 million in funds

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell ceremonially presented $5 million in state appropriations for fiscal year 2012 to Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center today at a ceremony in Richmond.

The funding was approved by the General Assembly this winter when the body accepted the governor's budget amendment to provide the additional resources for the center. The $5 million allocation will help the center to expand and strengthen its research as it works toward achieving National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive status, the highest level of distinction for a cancer center. Comprehensive status would make Massey the only facility in Virginia with such a designation, and one of only 40 nationally.

"Whether it has been a family member, friend, colleague, or their own personal struggle, cancer has touched every Virginian," Governor McDonnell said. "More than 1.5 million Americans, including 36,000 Virginians, received a new cancer diagnosis last year, according to the American Cancer Society. Although we have made great strides in our knowledge and understanding of the disease, there is still a long way to go before we conquer cancer. With this new funding, the talented professionals at VCU Massey Cancer Center can continue their life-saving work to find new methods of prevention, identify positive treatments for patients, and continue toward the ultimate goal: curing cancer in our lifetimes."

VCU President Michael Rao said, "VCU is grateful to Governor McDonnell and our state legislators for the additional resources given to Massey Cancer Center to continue pursuing the scientific innovations that will ultimately save and improve lives. The impact of VCU Massey Cancer Center on Virginia is tremendous. Massey's research breakthroughs provide advanced therapies for cancer patients across the state."

Massey is currently designated by the NCI and has been for 35 years because of its scientific excellence in cancer research and its vital role in reducing cancer morbidity and mortality. It is one of only two centers in the state with this designation. Massey is now working to attain Comprehensive status, the top designation from NCI.

NCI Comprehensive designation is awarded following a rigorous peer review process to those cancer centers that have demonstrated depth and breadth in laboratory, clinical and population-based research, with substantial interdisciplinary research that bridges these areas. Comprehensive status represents the scientific community's recognition of a cancer center's strong performance.

This added credibility would help Massey to build a broader team of cancer disease-specific specialists and a greater range of research by attracting top physician-scientists and increased NCI research funding, and by providing access to significant new sources of private funding.