The University of Louisville (Ky.) said it has won a $1.3 million federal research grant that could help propel its James Graham Brown Cancer Center into the ranks of elite, nationally recognized research facilities. The five-year grant is the first step toward earning the National Cancer Institute's coveted designation as a comprehensive cancer center, which would enable the center to draw more research funding. The NCI has awarded the designation to only 39 cancer centers -- none in Kentucky, which has the nation's highest rate of lung cancer deaths, the fourth-highest rate of cancer deaths among men and the eighth-highest among women.
In the last three years, research funding for the cancer center has increased fiftyfold, to about $26 million, and the facility has added 43 new faculty members. It still needs to hire 25 to 30 more. The Graham Brown center is creating a new cancer center with five-hospital Norton Healthcare on the sprawling Louisville Medical Center campus. The hospital is expected to open in 2003 with 80 inpatient beds. Officials say the $10 million hospital, which will grow to 200 beds, will eventually treat more than 40,000 patients a year. When the collaboration was formally approved in September, university officials said they hoped to earn the NCI's special designation within five years.