Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, has been named a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center. The NCI designation recognizes Sylvester as among the top cancer centers in the United States. Sylvester joins a highly select group as one of two NCI-designated cancer centers in the state of Florida and one of 71 centers across the nation.
Julio Frenk, MPH, PhD, MD
Stephen D. Nimer, MD
Julio Frenk, MPH, PhD, MD, President of the University of Miami, and Stephen D. Nimer, MD, Director of Sylvester, made the announcement during a press conference on July 29. Speakers included Senator Rick Scott, Congresswoman Donna Shalala, and Robert T. Croyle, Director of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the NCI.
The NCI recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies. Sylvester’s work ensures that patients in South Florida are able to receive the most advanced cancer care without traveling outside the region.
At any given time, hundreds of research studies are underway at Sylvester, part of UHealth–University of Miami Health System, and other NCI cancer centers, including basic laboratory research, clinical trials for new treatments, and prevention for populations at risk for cancer. In South Florida, Sylvester has the only phase I clinical trials program.
Programs and History
Some of the public health programs that helped propel Sylvester to NCI designation include its Firefighter Cancer Initiative, a long-term study of exposures to carcinogens and ways to reduce and prevent cancer risks for Florida firefighters. Another is Sylvester’s Game Changer vehicle, which is helping address health disparities in medically underserved communities experiencing higher-than-expected cancer incidence and mortality rates.
Sylvester’s history dates to 1973, when it was known as the Comprehensive Cancer Center for the State of Florida. In 1986, philanthropist Harcourt Sylvester, Jr, pledged $27.5 million to benefit cancer programs at the medical school and the cancer center was renamed Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in recognition of what was, at the time, the largest single gift to the University of Miami.