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New UM cancer center to offer patients lifesaving treatment 'where discoveries are being made'

Kenneth Griffin (center) and Dr. Stephen Nimer (left) stand side-by-side at a beam-signing ceremony following the event commemorating Griffin's $50 million donation on March 5, 2024
University of Miami
Kenneth Griffin (left) and Dr. Stephen Nimer (right) stand side-by-side at the center of the frame at a beam-signing ceremony at the site of the upcoming Kenneth C. Griffin Cancer Research Building, at the University of Miami, on March 5, 2024.

A new $260 million cancer research center due to open next year at the University of Miami is “a symbol of how serious” the institution is about eradicating the disease, says Dr. Stephen D. Nimer, who leads the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Nimer said the new 12-story building will be dedicated to cancer research and treatments. It will include two floors dedicated to clinical care.

“Never before on campus have bench scientists worked in the same building as patient care," he said. "Now, patients will receive lifesaving treatment where discoveries are being made."

"The facility will also enable even more patients in the region to participate in clinical research, receive more effective and less toxic treatments, and help us realize the promise of precision medicine,” he added.

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"The word building is both a noun and a verb,” said Nimer. “We are very proud of what we have been building, and now it's really time to provide state-of-the-art resources and facilities to the incredible people we’ve recruited down here."

According to Nimer, the center has more than 400 faculty members. Nearly 300 joined within the last 12 years. The center is part of the UM's Miller School of Medicine. The new facility will open in 2025.

The project, being built at the school's Miami campus, got a boost this month from Florida-born billionaire Kenneth Griffin, who donated $50 million to the building effort.

At a ceremony on campus last week, officials revealed the new center, which will complement the existing facilities at UM’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, will be named the "Kenneth C. Griffin Cancer Research Building."

The Kenneth C. Griffin will be 12 stories and span 244,000-square-feet.
University of Miami
The Kenneth C. Griffin will be 12 stories and span 244,000-square-feet.

“There is no doubt that Sylvester will continue to be at the forefront of science and care and at the forefront of saving people’s lives,” Griffin said during the ceremony.

Griffin is the CEO of hedge fund Citadel, which moved its global headquarters from Chicago to Miami in 2022. Since arriving in the Sunshine State, he has donated $20 million to Miami-Dade College and $25 million to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, among other major gifts.

Major push to fight cancer

The expansion of UM's cancer center comes at a time when the Biden administration is making a major push fight cancer with the same ambition it had last century when it sought to land a man on the moon. His "cancer moonshot" initiative is aimed at cutting U.S. cancer fatalities by 50% over the next 25 years and dramatically improving the lives of caregivers and those suffering from cancer. 

The American Cancer Society reports that more than 2 million cases are expected to be diagnosed this year. That figure includes more than 106,000 cases in Florida.

More than 611,000 people this year will die from the disease, including more than 48,000 Florida residents, according to the American Cancer Society.

Federal health officials say cancer is the second-leading cause of death among Americans. Heart disease is the top killer.

Sylvester is the only cancer center in South Florida designated by the National Cancer Institute and one of only 72 in the entire country.

The center's Nimer believes that designation is what attracts the best doctors and researchers and allows them to help the greatest number of patients.

“We have a vision of a cancer-free world,” said Nimer. “We’re not there yet, but this building is going to send a symbol to everybody about how serious we are.”

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