A new joint venture between Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Hunter College is set to produce a high-tech cancer care center that will help revolutionize the treatment of the tragically common – and widely dreaded – disease. The Upper East Side facility will be devoted to bone marrow transplants and new innovations to fight lung, blood, head and neck cancers.
In his announcement of the planned site, which also involves the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg described the $215 million construction proposal as “one of the largest real estate transactions” in the history of New York City’s government. “These new facilities will enhance New York’s already first-ranked standing in the areas of medical research treatment and learning,” Bloomberg stated.
The specifics of the project entail a purchase by Sloan-Kettering of city property – located on East 73rd Street near the East River – on which the world-famous medical institution will build a 750,000-square-foot outpatient cancer care facility. Additionally, Hunter College will build a separate 336,000-square-foot science and health professions school at the site. As a substitute for an outright monetary payment, the university will transfer its old satellite campus on East 25th Street to the city.
The mayor said that the two new facilities – which are expected to be in operation by either 2017 or 2018 – will “enable both Hunter College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering to carry out their lifesaving missions in outstanding, state-of-the-art facilities in a beautiful location overlooking the East River.”
The buildings that house Hunter College’s divisions devoted to science study and research are currently divided between two locations, with basic sciences at its primary campus on East 68th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, and its nursing and health sciences component situated 40 blocks south. For a number of years, the college has been seeking to divest itself of the East 25th Street campus and relocate on a spot that is closer to its main facility. With the new deal, the old building will be torn down, and the city will retain the site for future development.
In addition to speaking about the new joint venture as a key element of the ongoing effort to revamp and boost the city’s science and tech sectors, Mayor Bloomberg described its larger impact on the city. “Thanks to our innovative approach to economic development, this is yet another step towards making New York City home to the world’s most talented workforce,” he said. “Not only will these two great institutions play a critical role in creating great jobs in one of the city’s growing industries, but they usher in the innovators and medical advancements of tomorrow.”
According to an analysis conducted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the project is expected to create more than 3,200 construction jobs and nearly 830 permanent jobs. The new facility will enable Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center – routinely ranked among the top cancer hospitals in the country – to develop innovative outpatient treatment programs, extend its high-quality care to a greater number of cancer patients, improve clinical outcomes, and reduce the cost of cancer care while meeting the growing demand for services as the population ages.
“This new facility will play a critically important role in our overall cancer care delivery system,” said President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Dr. Craig B. Thompson at the event announcing the project. “It will have a patient-oriented physical design – equipped with almost everything patients will need under one roof – making their experience as streamlined and easy as possible. It will also offer our physicians and other healthcare professionals an inspiring and efficient environment in which to provide care. And because of the physical proximity with our main hospital, there will be cohesiveness among all our departments. We are fortunate to live in a time of enormous opportunities to bring novel and more effective treatments to patients with cancer. This new component of our clinical enterprise will touch many lives and extends Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s historic commitment to the control and eventual cure of cancer.”
Dr. Thompson also noted that Memorial Sloan-Kettering is looking forward to many opportunities for collaboration between its clinicians and scientists and Hunter’s researchers and health science professionals. In addition, he said that Hunter College’s School of Nursing, which will be part of the new complex, “will allow synergies between their students and our nurses. These interactions will have enormous benefits for both institutions, as well as for patients with cancer.”
The new science and health professions school will enable Hunter College to create consolidated, efficient, and state-of-the-art science and nursing facilities, and will eliminate the need for duplicate eating halls, libraries and other facilities at the current 25th Street campus.
“Educating the next generation of innovators is critical to our nation’s ability to flourish and compete in the decades ahead,” said Chancellor of the City University of New York Matthew Goldstein in his comments at the announcement. “The City University of New York designated the years 2005 to 2015 the ‘Decade of Science’ at CUNY, renewing the University’s commitment to creating a healthy pipeline to science, math, technology, and engineering fields by advancing research and training at the highest levels. Now Hunter College’s premier nursing and physical therapy programs will move into a state-of-the-art space. Its top science researchers will have labs appropriate for the cutting edge, groundbreaking work they are doing in their fields. Hunter’s nurses and researchers will have the opportunity to develop new collaborations and expand on existing ones with Memorial Sloan-Kettering – an institution with an inspiring and crucial mission.”
“The relationship between Hunter College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering underscores Mayor Bloomberg’s unwavering support for public education, and highlights the great importance of public and private collaborations,” said President of Hunter College Jennifer J. Raab during her address to those assembled for the announcement. “We are proud of the many contributions Hunter College is making to science and will continue to make, expanding its work in neuroscience and cancer research, as we train the next generation of scientists, particularly minorities and women, in conjunction with Memorial Sloan-Kettering. In addition, we will be able to grow our exceptional nursing school, which already offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a new doctorate in nursing practice, to our very diverse student population. These men and women will be well prepared to take on a greater role in our changing health care landscape.”
Referring to Hunter College as a “science powerhouse,” President Raab noted that the achievements of the school’s faculty have been acknowledged with record-breaking grants – tens of millions of dollars annually – from the National Institutes of Health, which is an extraordinarily rare accomplishment for a public college without a medical school. “Many of our most groundbreaking projects are collaborations with Memorial,” Raab pointed out, “most notably a $3 million dollar National Science Foundation grant to increase the number of scientists trained to use radio imaging to detect cancer. So many Hunter professors collaborate with MSK scientists that we sometimes don’t know which campus to find them on -- like Dr. Lynn Francesconi, our resident expert in radiochemistry, Dr. Ben Ortiz, who studies T-cell gene therapy, and Dr. David Foster, a leading expert on the biology of cancer cells.”
The Hunter College President concluded her remarks by declaring, “We are breaking down the barriers separating disciplines and institutions that ultimately share a common goal – to improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers.”
New York City has unparalleled talent, entrepreneurism, and capital to fuel growth in health care, research and education. These new facilities, along with Applied Sciences NYC, will capitalize on the considerable growth presently occurring within the science, technology and research fields in New York, and build on the Bloomberg administration’s record of creating a diversified and more competitive economy for the future. Currently there are nearly 400 venture capital firms investing over $560 million in healthcare and biomedical innovation with a New York City metro area and almost 100 companies based here in the biotech, medical device, and biomedical IT industries.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world’s oldest and largest private institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research, and education in cancer. Its scientists and clinicians generate innovative approaches to better understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. Moreover, MSKCC’s specialists are leaders in biomedical research and in translating the latest research to advance the standard of cancer care worldwide.
Hunter College is the largest college in the CUNY system. Founded in 1870, it is also one of the oldest public colleges in the country. Currently, over 22,000 students attend Hunter, pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 170 different programs of study. Hunter College is famous for the diversity of its student body, which is as diverse as New York City itself. For over 140 years, it has provided educational opportunities for women and minorities, and today, students from every walk of life and every corner of the world convene at Hunter in pursuit of the “American Dream.”