Buffett gift will create Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

May 03, 2013

Image with caption: Fred and Pamela Buffett

Fred and Pamela Buffett

Omaha, Neb – The University of Nebraska Medical Center and The Nebraska Medical Center announced today that their cancer center project in midtown Omaha has a name: the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

The cancer center will be named for Fred and Pamela Buffett in recognition of a gift from Pamela Buffett, through her foundation, the Rebecca Susan Buffett Foundation, to the University of Nebraska Foundation. Pamela’s husband, Fred “Fritz” Buffett, died in 1997 after fighting kidney cancer. Fred Buffett and Warren Buffett were first cousins.

“We could not be more grateful to Pamela Buffett for her monumental gift,” UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., said. “This is truly a transformational project that will enhance our international reputation and elevate our cancer program to a whole new level.”

“The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center places Nebraska firmly at the leading edge of cancer care, research and education,” University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken said. “This will allow us to attract the best and brightest faculty and students, and build on our significant strengths in cancer research to serve the people of Nebraska and the nation.”

“Few times, if ever, do we have the opportunity to embark on a project as ambitious as this,” said Glenn A. Fosdick, FACHE, president and CEO of The Nebraska Medical Center, UNMC’s hospital partner. “This center is critical to our community and region, and Pamela Buffett’s gift will help to provide the very best care to untold numbers of cancer patients from Nebraska and around the world.”

The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center includes three areas dedicated to cancer: a 98-laboratory research tower, a multidisciplinary outpatient center and a hospital with up to 108 beds. In all, the cancer center’s construction will cost $323 million, the largest project ever at the University of Nebraska. At the request of the donor, the gift amount will not be disclosed. The NU Board of Regents will formally vote on the naming at its June meeting.

“Fritz fought a courageous cancer battle until the very end,” said Omaha philanthropist Susie Buffett. “It is truly exceptional for Pamela to make this gift in his honor, for the benefit of potentially thousands upon thousands of cancer patients worldwide. These patients will benefit from the research advances that will be developed here, as well as the outstanding patient care that will be delivered.”

Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Eppley Cancer Center, said the proximity of researchers and clinicians will hasten the transfer of scientific discoveries from the lab into new treatments benefitting patients.

“The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center will allow the brightest minds in cancer research and care to collaborate on finding tomorrow’s cures, specifying those treatments to each patient based on their unique condition,” Dr. Cowan said. “In this facility, medical scientists will discover the next generation of cancer therapies targeted toward molecular changes in tumors, resulting in a treatment regimen individualized for each patient.”

Already, public support totaling $90 million has been pledged toward the project by the state of Nebraska, the city of Omaha and Douglas County. Private donors also have shown great support for the cancer center project, said Mike Yanney, chairman of the UNMC committee of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s comprehensive fund-raising campaign, Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities.

“Pamela Buffett’s gift is extraordinary and reflects the tremendous support for this project,” Yanney said. “The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is another example of the tremendous public-private partnerships from which many worthwhile Nebraska projects have benefitted.”

Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the NU Foundation, said that the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center not only would house the best cancer physicians and researchers in the state, “it also will help us attract even more of them to Nebraska to find a cure.

“I am grateful to Pamela Buffett for her gift and commitment to what will hopefully one day be an end to cancer,” Hastings said.

The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is the largest facility of a $370 million project that also includes plans for updated ambulatory (outpatient) services at the Med Center. In all, the project will provide 4,657 new jobs to the metro area, infusing $537 million annually into the economy.

Currently, planners are analyzing how the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center’s floors and spaces will match up with space in adjacent buildings, including the Durham Outpatient Center and Durham Research Towers. The facility will be constructed at Dewey Avenue and Durham Research Plaza (45th Street), where Swanson Hall currently is located. Demolition of Swanson Hall will begin later this spring, with construction of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center to begin in the summer.

More information about this project can be found at www.cancercenternebraska.com

Fact Sheet on the Project:

Home to: Cancer research and clinical treatment facilities

Location: Durham Research Plaza and Dewey Avenue

Cost: $323 million, the largest project ever at the University of Nebraska.

Cancer Research Tower:

  • 252,000 square feet
  • 98 labs
  • 10 total floors
  • Seven floors dedicated to research, including breast, brain, pancreatic, GI, prostate, lymphoma, leukemia, lung, head and neck, and women’s cancer, as well as cancer vaccines, drug development and pediatric cancer
  • One floor of mechanical support
  • One level of underground research support space

Clinical Treatment Facility:

  • 325,000 square feet
  • Seven floors
  • One floor of mechanical support
  • Multidisciplinary outpatient area which includes clinics, infusion, radiation therapy, surgery, radiology and collaborative treatment/diagnostics
  • 108-bed inpatient hospital which includes three total floors

Construction: Expected completion in 2016

Public Support:

  • Nebraska Legislature – $50 million pledged for the research tower
  • City of Omaha – $35 million
  • Douglas County – $5 million

Employee Support: $322,000

Private Support: To be announced

Economic Impact: The project will create thousands of construction and thousands of other industry jobs citywide. In addition, approximately 1,200 jobs will be needed at the medical center – each with an average salary of approximately $70,000. In all, the project will provide 4,657 new jobs to the metro area, infusing $537 million annually into the economy.

Ambulatory Care: The overall project also includes $47 million for an ambulatory care (non-cancer outpatient) project, bringing the total cost to $370 million.

About the donors:  

Pamela Buffett is a 1964 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Education and Human Sciences. Pam was a kindergarten teacher in the Chicago area for 25 years. Her late husband, Fred C. Buffett, was a humanitarian and a passionate marathon runner. The Buffetts had two daughters, Sarah and Rebecca. 

Fred C. Buffett was a first cousin to Warren Buffett of Omaha. Their fathers – Fred W. Buffett and Howard Buffett, respectively – were brothers. Fred C. Buffett died in 1997 of kidney cancer. 

Pamela Buffett lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., with her husband, Dusty Fleming, also originally from Omaha.