Mays Cancer Center renewed as a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center

Dear Mays Cancer Center community,

I’m delighted to share with you that as of today, Aug. 13, 2020, the Mays Cancer Center has officially been renewed as a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center for the next five years. After a highly competitive process, the National Cancer Institute empowers us to continue our mission to Decrease the burden of cancer in San Antonio, South Texas and beyond!

The renewal comes after 18 months of significant teamwork and dedication across our cancer center and the UT Health San Antonio divisions, departments and schools. Indeed, we owe a debt of gratitude to the passion and commitment of our cancer members and the impact of their efforts in cancer research, patient-centered cancer care and education. We are deeply grateful for the commitment of our Mays Cancer Center administrative staff, associate directors, program leaders, scientific shared resource leaders, committee members, faculty and staff for all their efforts in this very rigorous process. We are also greatly appreciative of our community leaders and partners, and philanthropic supporters for the tremendous support in our mission to end cancer. And we recognize that this achievement could not be realized without the exceptional support from Chancellor James Milliken, UT System leadership, President William Henrich, Dean Robert Hromas and all of our university leadership.

The NCI-designated cancer center program celebrates 50 years in 2021. It was established as part of the National Cancer Act of 1971 with the commitment to fight the “war on cancer.” It was envisioned that these community-focused cancer centers would be recognized for their cutting-edge cancer research, clinical trials, patient-centered cancer care, and the training of biomedical cancer researchers and health care providers to decrease the burden of cancer in their communities, across the nation and the world.

Our cancer center was founded in 1974 and has been an NCI-designated cancer center since 1991. On Sept. 25, 2019, we submitted our lengthy renewal grant, which was more than 1,000 pages long. On Feb. 25, 2020, we successfully completed a rigorous in-person site visit with more than 20 visitors from other NCI cancer centers and representatives from the NCI. The visitors were impressed by the significant strides we’ve made in finding better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer; the impact of our mission in our community; and the dedication of our members, staff and faculty. Below is a brief summary of their review:

In summary, the Mays Cancer Center has emerging research programs supported by strong shared resources, energized clinical research infrastructure and solid educational programs. Clear cancer focus is evident and basic discoveries are being moved through the translational pipeline. A major strength of the center is the profound commitment shown to the needs of its catchment area, which has a predominantly Hispanic population. While accruals to clinical trials are improving, further attention is needed. Increased investments in research infrastructure, strong program leadership and robust institutional support indicate a center on an upward trajectory.

We’re excited about our future as we grow the depth and breadth of our world-class cancer programs, continue to deepen our clinical partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center, design and build an exciting new specialty hospital with a heavy focus on cancer care and train the next generation of cancer researchers and health care providers.

Now, we set our sights even higher. Our goal is to achieve the highest level of recognition possible from the National Cancer Institute, the designation as an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center. And these most recent achievements will help us get there.

Later this month, we will share news of our NCI renewal with the San Antonio community and celebrate our success publicly. We hope to have a virtual celebratory event this fall, and a face-to-face event to celebrate in person when we’re able.

Cancer does not stand a chance against our passion, teamwork and innovation.

All my best,

Ruben Mesa, MD, FACP

Director, Mays Cancer Center

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