Terra Sigillata

I just wanted to send out congratulations to my friends and colleagues in Charleston at the Medical College of South Carolina (MUSC) on the 2 March announcement of their receipt of NCI Cancer Center designation:

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Hollings Cancer Center has attained National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation, a distinction held by only 63 other cancer centers in the U.S. The Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) is the only institution in South Carolina with this prestigious status.

Andrew S. Kraft, MD, Director of the Hollings Cancer Center (HCC), said being named one of the top cancer research centers in the country signals that MUSC/HCC researchers and physicians are leaders in discovering, developing, and delivering cutting-edge treatments based on laboratory research to patients in South Carolina and beyond. The immediate benefit to patients is increased access to early clinical trials offering promising new treatments.

“We are honored and proud to have earned this recognition. It is a distinction earned over many years through collaboration and innovation by dedicated researchers, clinicians, and staff throughout Hollings Cancer Center and MUSC,” Dr. Kraft said. “By sharing what we know with other cancer centers and practices throughout our state, we can step up our war on cancer in South Carolina and beyond. Our citizens don’t have to leave the state to find the most advanced research and protocols from an NCI center – we have one right here in our back yard.”

NCI designation is accompanied by more than $7 million in funding to sustain and grow research efforts at MUSC. The NCI awarded designation to HCC based on its outstanding facilities, commitment to research, leadership, and vision.

Former U.S. Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, for whom the cancer center was named in 1993, hailed the federal designation as nothing less than South Carolinians deserve.

“This is a true milestone for the Medical University of South Carolina. One can see that the cancer building is a winner, but now all in the state can know that the doctors and staff of MUSC Cancer Center are winners. Dr. Greenberg, Dr. Kraft, and the staff are to be congratulated.”

Dr Kraft was chief of medical oncology at Colorado when I was there and was a highly-supportive colleague and informal mentor. He was recruited to the Hollings Cancer Center for, among other things, the goal of developing programs and infrastructure necessary to support an NCI Cancer Center designation. (Incidentally, a little known fact is that Andrew’s father invented the ubiquitous Vortex test tube mixer, US Patent No. 3,061,280 (1962)). Hollings has a nice podcast with Andrew describing the significance of the NCI Cancer Center designation.

MUSC also features several other folks who have been instrumental in my career since I was a young graduate student attending the cancer chemotherapy Gordon Conferences. I can’t think of a nicer bunch of people to gain this recognition.

By the way, Charleston is an absolutely beautiful, historic city and would be a fabulous place to be a graduate student, postdoc, or faculty member. If you work in areas related to cancer, give a serious look at MUSC when you are searching for positions and programs.

Congratulations Andrew and colleagues!

Disclaimer: For the record, I was in no way involved in the review of the MUSC cancer center support proposal.