UA, St. Joseph’s agree on expansion of Arizona Cancer Center

February 10, 2011

By hammersmith

The University of Arizona and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center have formed a partnership to expand the Arizona Cancer Center from Tucson to Phoenix. Initially, the collaboration will involve establishing a unit of the Cancer Center, the only comprehensive cancer center based in Arizona, at the main St. Joseph’s campus in central Phoenix. Meanwhile, UA will continue seeking funding to build a full outpatient clinic on the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

According to the Arizona Republic, UA and St. Joseph’s have signed a letter of intent to establish an inpatient branch of the Cancer Center within St. Joseph’s, the largest hospital in Arizona. That would be complemented by the planned 250,000 square-foot outpatient clinic and a new joint physicians group of cancer specialists. Recruiting is already in progress, with a target of beginning operations as early as June, the Republic said.

The Arizona Cancer Center, one of 40 institutions nationwide designated by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center, has built a major research and clinical enterprise in Tucson since its founding in 1976. The designation as a comprehensive cancer center reflects the Center’s emphasis on clinical care, basic and clinical research, education, outreach, and training. Its current assets include 60 laboratories and 300 physicians and researchers, drawing more than $30 million in grant and contract funding.

Arizona Cancer Center Director David Alberts said that although the Center already has offices in Phoenix and elsewhere in Arizona, a greater presence in the state’s largest metropolitan area is essential.

“We have a real responsibility to all the people of Arizona, not just part of the population,” Dr. Alberts said in the Republic.

The Cancer Center’s unit at St. Joseph’s will initially have 30 beds, but is expected to expand in response to demand. One draw will be the opportunity for patients to participate in studies led by UA researchers. Those studies are also an opportunity for scientists at St. Joseph’s to compete better for grant funding.

“This will make us more competitive on a national scale for research,” said Suzanne Pfister,  vice president of external affairs for St. Joseph’s, in the Republic.

The arrival of the Cancer Center will augment what is already a significant set of resources for cancer patients in Maricopa County. Other institutions with substantial oncology research programs include Scottsdale Healthcare and Mayo Clinic Arizona–another comprehensive cancer center. Additional clinical-care options include the Goodyear outpost of Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the soon-to-open M.D. Anderson Banner Cancer Center in Gilbert.

The planned outpatient facility is anticipated to serve as a cornerstone for the still-developing Biomedical Campus. Construction is now underway on one large academic facility, the Health Sciences Education Building, which will provide enough space for the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix to expand its class size from 48 to 120 students per year. Meanwhile, the City of Phoenix is seeking a private partner to build a four-story facility that could house laboratories and bioscience companies. And conversations are continuing about constructing a long-sought teaching hospital on the campus.

For more information:

University of Arizona planning cancer center at St. Joseph’s Hospital,” Arizona Republic, 02/03/2011