Already 2012 is shaping up to be pivotal year—a presidential election year in the United States and a second year of austerity in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We are grateful that the National Institutes of Health budget was spared further cuts when the federal budget for FY2012 was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama late last year. Locally UPMC and Highmark have agreed to extend hospital and physician contracts until June, 2013, easing some of the acute concern about access to our cancer facilities in Western Pennsylvania.
January marks the beginning of the second decade of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute's presence on the Shadyside campus and there is much we need to do to accelerate our research, education, clinical care and community engagement. Several events taking place during 2012 will have a long-term impact on our Shadyside campus.
- Planning is in full swing for the Center for Innovative Science, which is a tripartite partnership between UPCI, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and UPMC. Slated tentatively to open in 2014, this renovated research building on the site of the Reidbord Building adjacent to the Hillman Cancer Center will foster the intellectual and physical environment needed to operationalize personalized medical care with a special focus on cancer.
- Parallel to the building efforts is an ongoing search led by Steve Shapiro, MD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer for UPMC, to identify a worthy and visionary leader for the Center for Personalized Medicine that will reside within the Center for Innovative Science.
- At the same time we are taking steps to upgrade the UPCI shared facilities so vital to support the research mission of our members. Renovation of the preclinical animal imaging facilities continues with plans to add PET-CT capabilities to the current MRI and optical imaging suite. The recognition that the Pitt campus could ill afford to maintain two separate UPCI and School of Medicine proteomics facilities led to the decision to recruit a senior proteomics expert, Dr. Nathan Yates, from Merck, whose charge over time is to integrate our facilities into a single high quality facility serving all Pitt faculty members to push their research from the lab to the clinic.
- On our clinical side, the finalization of an agreement between UPMC and Varian on December 30, 2011 paves the way for implementation of a state of the art, cancer-focused electronic medical record, a process that will dominate our landscape at selected UPMC CancerCenter sites and the Hillman Cancer Center over the next year.
None of this would be possible without the unwavering dedication of all members of the UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter staff, faculty members, and researchers. In November, 2011 we gathered for our annual Expressions of Appreciation event to honor the many staff members and physicians who have gone the extra distance to serve our patients and support our research.
December brought our holiday party in the Herberman Conference Center. Over three hundred of our cancer care and research experts made a donation to the Patient Assistance Fund as their price of admission, giving all of us the chance to gather to celebrate how much we have accomplished over the year and recommit to our mission during this next year and beyond (and help support our neediest patients as an added bonus!). We are wholly reliant on each and every one of them who show up for work wearing their "game face" every day and we thank them for all that they do.
Best wishes for 2012.