The Stony Brook University Cancer Center is currently in the application process to become a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Cancer Center, according to a report by Vice President of Health Sciences Kenneth Kaushansky.
The NCI currently has 71 total designated Cancer Centers within the United States. Becoming NCI designated would require Stony Brook to be on par with some of the top cancer centers in the country. The NCI will recieve Stony Brook’s application in October and evaluate the cancer center early Spring 2022, according to the report.
“Most of the NCI designated cancer centers are from very large university based programs, and most of them are from large cities,” Dr. Roger Kerzetes, the Cancer Center’s hematology/oncology fellowship program director, said. “We have all the research and clinical skills that we stand a good chance at designation.”
Kerzetes said that the application process to receive this designation is long and requires many different forms of research and clinical requirements.
“It’s a moving target. There have been requirements added in the last five or ten years, such as community outreach, preventative services, educational services, etc,” Kerzetes said. “Things change based on what other programs are applying.”
Dr. Alison Stopeck, the Cancer Center’s associative director for clinical and translational research, said that there are grant amounts and clinical patient goals that have to be reached. Stony Brook will have to display that they are at the forefront of cancer research through their clinical trials and the publications that they release.
“Clinical research is one of the main goals of the NCI designation, so that you can bring technologies, knowledge, advances from the bench into the patient, so you can realize the opportunities for better treatment [and] diagnostics,” Stopeck said. “All of this is included in becoming an NCI designated cancer center.”
While the application process to become NCI designated contains many challenges, the value in the National Cancer Institute name would be noteworthy and come with a myriad of benefits, Stopeck said.
In an email to The Statesman, Dr. Yusuf Hannan, the director of the Cancer Center, explained that with the NCI designation comes the cancer center support grant. This would allow the center to maintain and elevate the cancer research that is currently performed.
Students have something to look forward to as well. With more grant money comes more opportunities to participate in research in the cancer field. Hannan said the support grant requires the cancer center to take on cancer education programs with students from a wide range of education levels ranging from high school to junior faculty, allowing more students to take part in the STEM field.
“If we do get the NCI designation, it will hopefully translate to more recognition in the work we are doing in clinical research,” Stopeck said. “Most patients don’t realize you don’t have to go to New York City to get the best cancer care.”