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University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center gets designation from National Institutes of Health

Twenty million dollars allocated by the General Assembly in the 2023-2024 biennial budget was integral to the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center being designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH is the federal government’s principal cancer research and training agency. Markey is now one of only 56 cancer centers nationwide with this designation and the only one in Kentucky.

UK HealthCare’s Markey Center (Photo provided)

“In 2009, the University of Kentucky’s leaders set a vision to achieve an initial National Cancer Institute designation. Thanks to the dedication of faculty and staff under the leadership of Markey Cancer Center Director Dr. Mark Evers, that goal was accomplished in four years,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “To truly be the University for Kentucky, we raised the stakes and decided that UK will continue to be a leader in cancer research by becoming a Comprehensive Cancer Center. A bold vision, now accomplished, and the next step in providing both the best cancer health care in the Commonwealth, but now leading the U.S. on the quest to find a cure.”

Kentucky’s General Assembly was instrumental in bringing notoriety to UK and the state-of-the-art technology and care Markey provides to thousands of Kentucky residents.

“We played the long game for Markey to be on the cutting edge of cancer research and quality care,” said Stivers. “This designation is significant in so many ways, putting Markey on par with The Mayo Clinic, Sloan Kettering, and The Cleveland Clinic. Markey is now eligible for federal funds and grants, making it an attractive investment for private funding. Support for this endeavor was a wise investment in people from all walks of life who will benefit from their research and care.”

The General Assembly laid the groundwork for this premier designation a decade ago, when the state’s first substantial investment in the research center, $135 million. It was in 2013 that Markey was initially designated as an NCI (National Cancer Institute) Cancer Center, providing cutting-edge cancer technology and treatment.

Kentucky has one of the highest cancer rates in the country, including the nation’s highest rate of lung cancer and the second-highest rate of colon cancer. Obtaining NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center status supports scientific discoveries to combat these and other serious cancer cases. It brings more innovative clinical advances and resources to the Appalachian region and across the state.

Stivers was joined on stage by Andy Barr, the U.S. Representative for the Sixth District, UK President Eli Capilouto, and UK Markey Cancer Center Director Dr. Mark Evers. UK College of Medicine student Susanna Goggans and Anna Cox, cancer survivor and UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green student, also spoke at the event.

Both U.S. Senator and Republican party Leader Mitch McConnell and U,S, Rep. Hal Rogers of the Fifth District sent a pre-recorded video message congratulating UK.

The elevation to an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center will further enhance Markey’s ability to attract top-tier researchers and clinicians, secure additional research funding, collaborate with national and international partners, and give patients access to leading-edge treatments and clinical trials resulting in better patient care and health outcomes for Kentuckians.

Markey has been ranked in the Top 50 for cancer care since 2017 by U.S. News and World Report.

University of Kentucky

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