School Funding

DeSantis announces $100 million in funding for top cancer centers in the state

The Florida funding will help the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine conduct cutting-edge research and improve patient care and treatment.

From “hitting the wall”, that moment when the body’s energy reserves are depleted, to the loss of her fingernails, Raquel Kaufler had become accustomed to the pain and injuries that accompany marathons.

It’s conquered New York’s five boroughs three times, beaten Boston’s venerable road course twice, and traversed the Miami and Chicago circuits multiple times – in all, around 300 miles of competitive endurance racing.

Then, 10 years ago, Kaufler embarked on the ride of her life. Doctors diagnosed him with stage 4 clear cell renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer with a five-year survival rate.

“But it’s been 10 years, and I’m still struggling,” she said, praising the lifesaving treatment she received at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

On Tuesday, she and a group of other cancer survivors, doctors, administrators, lawmakers and guests gathered at the Don Soffer Clinical Research Center at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine for a landmark press conference. a new step in the fight against cancer. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced record $100 million in funding for research and care at the state’s three major cancer centers, including the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center , who three years ago received a prestigious NCI designation from the National Cancer Institute.

The initiative, part of DeSantis’ 2022-23 budget that was approved by the Florida Legislature, represents a nearly 60% increase in state funding for the institutes, which also include the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa and UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital in Gainesville.

“We have confidence in these institutions to put this money to good use and to do so in a way that will have a meaningful impact on the lives of the patients they will serve,” DeSantis said, with his wife, Casey DeSantis, standing in front. side. to him.

“As the First Lady, Mrs. Kaufler and the Governor have experienced, we continue to make great strides in cancer treatment, thanks to decades of collaborative research. This is why funding from the State of Florida is so vital to our efforts to cure more cancer patients and conduct important research to improve the lives of cancer survivors,” said Dr. Stephen D. Nimer, director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and the de la Renta Oscar Chair in Cancer Research. “This level of support sends an important message to all those in need of care and to researchers who want to make a meaningful impact. There’s no better place to join our fight against cancer.

A “ray of hope” for South Florida is how Erin Kobetz, vice president for research and fellowships and associate director of population sciences and cancer disparities at Sylvester, described the funding of $100 million. “This grant provides the opportunity for Sylvester and other centers to pursue truly groundbreaking research that otherwise could not be funded. And it’s these cutting-edge ideas that promise better prevention and better treatments,” she said.

DeSantis drew attention to his own family’s battle with the disease, noting that his mother was diagnosed with cancer when he was in elementary school and his wife had recently beaten breast cancer. “Everyone in Florida is affected by this disease in one way or another,” he said.

Praising her husband for his support throughout his battle with the disease, including accompanying him to all of his chemotherapy appointments, the state’s first lady called the $100 million funding a game-changer “Florida is going to lead the way in finding a definitive cure once and for all for all types of cancer,” Casey DeSantis said.

Raymond Rodriguez-Torres, whose daughter, Bella, battled an aggressive form of childhood cancer for six years, said “today Bella smiled from heaven”. He pointed out that the foundation he helped create, Live Like Bella, which helps families affected by childhood cancer, has raised $26 million for childhood cancer research in the state.

As for Kaufler, who was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, her battle with cancer continues. Surgeons had to remove his right kidney, but follow-up scans revealed the cancer had spread to both lungs. Sylvester’s oncologist, Dr. Jaime Merchan, was able to offer him state-of-the-art targeted immunotherapy with few side effects through a clinical trial at Sylvester.

Kaufler is still receiving chemotherapy. And although she can no longer run marathons, she still manages to get some exercise, running at least five miles a day.

“I was like a machine when I was running marathons. I always kept going,” Kaufler said. “I applied that philosophy to my diagnosis and my treatment.”