It is my great pleasure to introduce this inaugural issue of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Magazine. This is an exciting time for us. Since my arrival in 2019, the Cancer Institute has recruited a record number of cancer researchers, and more recently, clinical oncologists. This has brought in at least $5 million in cancer-related grants and puts the Cancer Institute well on the road to what is required for NCI designation. The clinical trials operation has been completely restructured, which we expect to result in a major expansion of the clinical trial portfolio and patient offered trials. This includes the creation of the first academic Phase 1 Cancer Clinical Trial Unit in Arkansas.
A Community Outreach and Engagement program has been established to provide cancer prevention, screening and navigation throughout the state. This is critical to our moral imperative to provide the very best cancer care for the citizens of Arkansas. More recently, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs and Cancer Research Training and Education programs have been developed within the Cancer Institute. These are important elements both in our overall mission and for NCI designation.
The clinical operation continues to improve, and its reach throughout the state is rapidly expanding. Multiple new junior faculty members here at UAMS, along with junior faculty working in our evolving cancer network with Baptist Health are contributing to this effort. As part of the joint venture with Baptist, the Cancer Institute supplies all of the cancer services for Baptist Health patients. We anticipate this will allow the quality cancer services and specialty care we are known for to be present at all Baptist Health sites. This is exactly what Arkansans need and deserve.
I am excited about this magazine, as it highlights our extensive efforts to help all cancer patients in Arkansas and documents our progress towards NCI designation. This is a sacred mission, and I take it very seriously. The future of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute is bright, and I am very honored to lead it.
Michael J. Birrer, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Kent C. Westbrook, M.D., Director’s Chair, UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute
Director, Cancer Service Line