SEATTLE and KAMPALA, Uganda – May 21, 2015 – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Uganda Cancer Institute today opened the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre in Kampala, the first comprehensive cancer center jointly constructed by U.S. and African cancer institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.
The 25,000-square-foot regional cancer center is a state-of-the-art facility that can treat up to 20,000 patients a year and includes adult and pediatric outpatient clinics, a research clinic, laboratories, specimen repository, training center, conference rooms, and a pharmacy.
Uganda has a substantial cancer burden, and six out of 10 of the most common cancers there are caused by infectious diseases. In response, Uganda has invested in cancer research, training, and clinical care. The UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre will significantly increase patient access to cancer diagnostics and treatment while furthering the study of cancers in Uganda, particularly those that are infection-related.
“Our work in low- and middle-income countries puts us at the intersection of cancer and infectious diseases,” said Fred Hutch President and Director D. Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D. “Novel approaches to research and cancer treatment learned through our work in Uganda and other countries feedback to the ongoing research taking place not only in the U.S. but worldwide.”
This new facility was a product of almost 10 years of steadily working in partnership with the Uganda Cancer Institute, said Corey Casper, M.D., M.P.H., head of Global Oncology at Fred Hutch and co-director of the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance. “Today, we have world experts in cancer from Seattle working side by side with our colleagues in Uganda to understand the burden and biology of cancer, and we have created the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre in an effort to translate this knowledge to reduce the cancer burden worldwide.”
Cancer increasingly is recognized as a health threat to individuals in both resource-rich and resource-poor regions. Up to 25 percent of the world’s cancers are caused by infectious diseases, with higher percentages in many low- and middle-income countries compared to high-income countries, and approximately 33 percent of cancers in sub-Saharan Africa are caused by infectious diseases. It is estimated that the global burden of cancer will increase by nearly 70 percent by 2030.
“Together with Fred Hutch, we are training a new generation of physicians and researchers who can reduce the cancer burden while elevating clinical care in Uganda,” said Jackson Orem, M.B.Ch.B., M.Med., Ph.D., director of the Uganda Cancer Institute and co-director of the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance.
Fred Hutch’s research in Uganda and related work has demonstrated that the cancer burden in low-resource settings can be effectively addressed. The high-impact, low-cost tools being developed by and research-based evidence produced through this collaborative effort has the potential to inform cancer prevention and treatment globally, including in the United States.
The alliance is ideally positioned to provide American and Ugandan physician-scientists with in-depth training in the treatment of infection-related malignancies. In 2008, Uganda had just one oncologist who treated more than 10,000 patients a year. In response, Fred Hutch spearheaded an extensive medical training program and has trained more than 300 Ugandans and Americans in the treatment of infection-related cancers, including physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, data specialists, and experts in regulatory affairs and fiscal management. Today, the number of practicing oncologists in Uganda has increased twelvefold.
“The vision for global oncology is that every person, no matter where you live in the world, has the same chance of surviving their cancer,” Casper said. “Where you were born, where you live, and where you seek care should not dictate surviving the cancer that you have. Furthermore, we believe that studying the biologic factors that cause cancer and result in different clinical manifestations of these diseases in diverse geographic settings could lead to important advances in treatment and prevention in both low- and high-resource settings.”
The relationship between Fred Hutch and the UCI dates back to 2004, and the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance was formally established in 2008. The program was formed to support the development of a strong biomedical infrastructure in Uganda that would contribute to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and related health concerns.
The UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre is funded in part by two grants totaling $1.4 million from the United States Agency for International Development (through the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program) and an $8.6 million investment from Fred Hutch. The government of Uganda also has supported the building through the donation of land, support for personnel and equipment, and technical support.
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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first and largest cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Private contributions are essential for enabling Fred Hutch scientists to explore novel research opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more information visit www.fredhutch.org or follow Fred Hutch on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
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