NCI-designated cancer center renewal grant is immediate focus

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public relations | February 12, 2020

Image with caption: The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

UNMC and Nebraska Medicine campus leaders are focused on a National Cancer Institute grant renewal, due this fall, that would renew the critical NCI designation and funding for the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., will continue to serve as director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center and the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer through the renewal process. He also has been appointed physician-in-chief of the cancer center by Nebraska Medicine to fully align the cancer care and cancer research missions of the cancer center.

As the grant renewal process intensifies, highly regarded national leaders advised that, given Dr. Cowan's expertise and commitment to the future success of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, he should remain as the director and lead it though the competitive renewal of the NCI Cancer Center Support grant.

"The timing was such that both NCI leaders and the cancer center's external advisory board indicated that it is not optimal timing to pursue additional candidates and at the same time submit a compelling application," said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. "I am pleased that Dr. Cowan is so enthusiastic and will continue to stay on through the renewal process. I also would like to publicly thank the members of the search committee who have spent much of their time over the past months setting the framework to identify a successor to Dr. Cowan."

"Appointing Ken as physician-in-chief will help us more fully align the cancer care and cancer research missions that are the hallmark of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center," said Nebraska Medicine CEO Jim Linder, M.D.

The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated cancer center in Nebraska and one of only 71 in the country that are NCI-funded to deliver cutting-edge cancer treatments to patients. NCI-designated cancer centers are recognized for their scientific leadership in laboratory and clinical research, in addition to serving their communities and the broader public by integrating training and education for biomedical researchers and health care professionals.

"I am excited to highlight the growth in translational and clinical research in the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center over the past five years and discuss the incredible growth in our clinical programs," Dr. Cowan said. "This provides us with an opportunity to showcase the new Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in which researchers and clinicians can work seamlessly together to develop new therapies for the treatment and prevention of cancer."

The co-chairs of the search committee - Bradley Britigan, M.D., dean of the UNMC College of Medicine, and Michael Yanney, chairman emeritus of Burlington Capital and longtime supporter of UNMC -- agreed with this important timing decision.

"Renewal of NCI designation is a rigorous process that requires an extensive amount of time and knowledge of the organization to put together the outstanding proposal that is needed," Dr. Britigan said. "NCI designation is a key component to our recognition as one of the premier locations for cancer care and research in the country."

Yanney concurred that the medical center needs to continue to grow its cancer research and clinical programs. "We are excited that Dr. Cowan has agreed to remain as director and serve as physician-in-chief of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center," he said. "Under his leadership, the Buffett Cancer Center will continue to provide hope for cancer patients with new and better approaches to preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer."


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Lisa Runco
February 12, 2020 at 7:23 AM

Dr. Cowan, thank you for your continued commitment to the success of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. Your leadership during this critical phase Of NCI renewal is invaluable!