The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) celebrates the 30th anniversary of its founding on Sept. 3, 2015. This moment of recognition comes at a time of great accomplishment but also at a time of sadness in the life of UPCI and its partner, UPMC CancerCenter.
On the one hand, the summer of 2015 brought an official notice of grant award for our federal Cancer Center Support Grant for $25.6 million to support our research infrastructure from 2015 to 2020. With this award came approval of all of our clinical trial operations as well as renewal of our status as an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. We remain the only such center in western Pennsylvania and one of 45 such centers in the U.S. This important designation recognizes our strength in basic, population, translational and clinical research; education; and community outreach.
This welcome notification came just after the wonderful news that UPMC was again named to the 2015 U.S. News and World Report Honor Roll and the cancer specialty area at UPMC ranked 25th nationally. Both of these milestones are a fantastic beginning to our year-long celebration of our 30th anniversary which we began at our June 2015 scientific retreat and will continue at the Hillman Cancer Center Gala on Sept.17, 2015.
Of course none of this would be possible without the staunch support of all of our faculty and staff across UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter as well as our ambassadors in the community. Foremost among our community leaders have been Elsie and Henry Hillman. All of us suffered a grievous loss with the death of Elsie Hillman, one of our greatest supporters and most influential pioneers in our quest against cancer, on Aug. 4, 2015. Much has already been written and much more will be written about all that she accomplished as an activist and a philanthropist in Pittsburgh and throughout the country during her nearly 90 years of life and her 70-year partnership with her husband, Henry.
We see this every day when we enter the Hillman Cancer Center which stands as a living testament to the Hillmans' vision to improve cancer care and support cancer research across western Pennsylvania. No detail was too small for Elsie as she advised on the design and decoration of the Hillman during its planning and construction and its 13 years of operation, always with a focus on how to make it a more welcoming and supportive environment for patients, families and staff. She was a tireless advocate for each and every patient who came through our doors, helping us to think about how to improve the patient experience through her leadership of the Hillman Seamless Patient Care initiative. Through the Hillman Foundations fellows program, she and Henry have supported innovative research carried out by nearly 100 UPCI faculty members in the labs of the Hillman Research Pavilion over the last decade Elsie served as the founding co-chair for the UPCI Council, our committee of lay advisors for UPCI, carrying our message to the members of our community. Truly Elsie Hillman was a guiding force for all that we do every day.
We would not be where we are today without the vision and commitment of Elsie and Henry Hillman. Of course our job is far from complete but we are the better in our journey toward a future without cancer because of her exceptional leadership and hard work. She truly helped to set our course for the next 30 years.