Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill giving approximately $1.7 million annually to University of Colorado Cancer Center for cancer research. The money will be allocated from tobacco litigation settlement money. This is the first time the state legislature has earmarked money specifically for cancer research.
“We have always thought of CU Cancer Center as Colorado’s Cancer Center,” said Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, CU Cancer Center director. “The additional research money will help us move cancer science forward and get the right treatments and interventions to the right patients at the right time.”
In 1998, Colorado signed the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement awarding a total of $206 billion to counteract the health effects of tobacco use in the United States. To date, Colorado has received more than $1.5 billion of these monies. The bill signed today, House Bill 16-1408, allocates money from this fund to speed the pace of cancer research and other health related programs in the State of Colorado.
CU Cancer Center is the only comprehensive cancer center in the state of Colorado as designated by the National Cancer Institute. It also is part of several elite groups, including the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) which establishes standards of care for cancer patients and guidelines for programs to improve quality of life for cancer survivors. CU Cancer Center is also a member of the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN). The partnership takes samples from patient tumors and pairs it with information describing their treatments and results. All while protecting patient privacy, the information is collected in a shared database so ORIEN-affiliated cancer researchers can draw conclusions based on many more patients than at their own institution, thus allowing studies would otherwise not be feasible.
With the signing of this bill, Colorado joins states including California, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Arizona, Massachusetts and others that directly fund cancer research, the vast majority with similar tobacco tax and/or tobacco settlement monies.
“This money from the state legislature will help our efforts to discover targets for cancer treatment, develop medications for those targets and deliver the therapies to patients,” said Theodorescu. “Knowing we have the confidence of the state legislature and additional resources, we will be able to make a bigger impact on the fight against cancer for patients in Colorado and beyond.”
Guest Contributor: Garth Sundem, CU Cancer Center