RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget plan includes a proposal that’s vital both to North Carolinians’ health and to our economy: Restoration of the University Cancer Research Fund to full funding.1
Nearly 40 percent of us will contract cancer at some point in our lives. Even if we manage to avoid it, we each have friends and loved ones who don’t. And the patients who made 170,000 visits to the N.C. Cancer Hospital last year2 are all looking for the most advanced and effective treatments available.
In 2007, just as cancer was surpassing heart disease as the leading cause of death in our state, North Carolina made an extraordinary commitment: $50 million a year – the equivalent of a billion-dollar endowment paying out 5% a year – for cancer research not just at UNC Chapel Hill, but in clinics and telemedicine networks across the state.3
The results have been extraordinary as well: More than 170 new faculty researchers4 have helped make important advances in immunotherapy to harness the body’s own system to fight cancer, in the use of nanoparticles to precisely target tumors with drugs, and in the role genetics play in cancer.5
Just last month, a team led by Shawn Hingtgen, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center who was recruited with UCRF dollars, announced a revolutionary new treatment that converts human skin cells to stem cells that in turn target the brain tumors associated with glioblastoma, a common – and vicious – cancer.6
State legislators reduced the Cancer Research Fund to $42 million in 2013. Even at reduced levels of investment, UCRF’s economic impact has been stunning:
- A return of more than $9 for every dollar invested, for an economic impact of more than $406 million in 2015-16 alone and more than $2 billion since inception.
- Direct support for more than 1,036 employees in 2015-16.
- Creation of the equivalent of 1,510 new jobs.
- Leveraging of $170 million of external funds.7
As part of $21 million in recommended investments in university research, Gov. Cooper proposes an appropriation of $4 million to restore the University Cancer Research Fund to $50 million a year.8
This is brainy research that benefits North Carolina’s economy and – most of all – its patients. It should be a no-brainer to restore it.
1 https://ncosbm.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/documents/files/BudgetBook_2017_web.pdf, p. 59.
2 https://unclineberger.org/ucrf/ucrf-annual-reports/2016-ucrf-legislative-report, p. 2.
3Ibid, p. 4.
4Ibid, p. 7.
5Ibid, p. 5.
7 https://unclineberger.org/ucrf/ucrf-annual-reports/2016-ucrf-legislative-report, pp. 4-5.
8 https://ncosbm.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/documents/files/BudgetBook_2017_web.pdf, p. 5.