Message from the Mays Cancer Center director

Dear Mays Cancer Center Community:

Today, September 25, we passed the first significant milestone in our competitive renewal journey as an NCI-designated cancer center – the submission of our Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG). Our designation as an NCI-designated cancer center is a highly competitive process and one that we have enjoyed since 1991. Because of the tremendous efforts of our members, faculty, and staff at the Mays Cancer Center, and the wonderful community of San Antonio and South Texas, we have continued to receive this designation. The process of renewal is once every five years and is both a challenge and an opportunity to reflect on our mission, celebrate our shared accomplishments, and plan for our future working together to decrease the burden of cancer in San Antonio and South Texas.

The process of renewal as an NCI-designated cancer center is first and foremost a grant and one that has taken tremendous efforts to prepare. Our team has been tremendous, fueled by the tireless efforts of our associate director of administration, Dr. Susan Padalecki, and the entire administrative team, our co-program leaders, associate directors, shared resources directors, research executive committee, and our senior leadership committee. By working together, these groups have worked extremely hard to adequately convey to our reviewers the accomplishments and the plans of the Mays Cancer Center.

A partial list of our shared accomplishments includes:

Developed the Mays Cancer Center Strategic Plan with four primary areas of focus – South Texas Focused Cancer Discovery, Next Generation Cancer Therapies, Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos, and Patient-Centered Complex Cancer Care

  • Growth to 94 full members with over $37M in external peer-reviewed funding
  • Significant areas of focused growth in CDP (genome repair and tumor microenvironment), EDT (early phase trials, neuro-oncology, drug repurposing) and PSP (Active prevention, risk-based screening, cancer survivorship), and the capabilities of our shared resources and clinical trials office
  • 1,086 publications with 23% in journals with impact factors >8
  • 1,651 patients accrued in cancer clinical trials in 2018, with 59% being patients who are underrepresented minorities
  • Development of a comprehensive Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) office led by associate director, Dr. Amelie Ramirez
  • Development of comprehensive Cancer Research Career Enhancement (CRCE) efforts under the Cancer Education office led by associate director, Dr. Robin Leach, and Kate Lathrop, M.D., the co-chair of the education committee
  • Development and growth of a complex cancer service line that includes clinical-research integration in cancer prevention and screening, palliative and survivorship care and multi-disciplinary cancer care all in a newly renovated Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson

As we pivot towards our NCI/CCSG site visit on February 25, 2020, we are planning for an active fall which includes 1) development and practicing of high-quality presentations, with several mock site visits and external feedback, 2) continuing our strongest possible efforts in the continued forward progress of the mission of the Mays Cancer Center, especially clinical trial accruals. We will also highlight the very latest updates in recruitments, trial accruals, and newly funded grants, 3) Continue renovations and cosmetic enhancements to the Mays Cancer Center building in preparation for that visit.

Deepest thanks for the incredible team effort to get us to this first crucial milestone. Let us pause, briefly celebrate, and leverage our strong sense of mission and passion for making a difference in cancer care to energize our preparations for a successful site visit.

All my best,

Ruben Mesa, M.D., FACP

Director, Mays Cancer Center



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Article Categories: Cancer, My UT Health