New home for University of Kentucky cancer center will help accelerate research, director says

Published 3:12 pm Thursday, April 25, 2024

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A new $781 million home for the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center will help researchers accelerate work aimed at “conquering cancer in the commonwealth,” its director said Thursday.

Construction is set to start on the project, meant to build on the Markey Center’s growing national recognition for research and patient care in a state plagued by some of the nation’s worst cancer rates. State and university officials gathered for an event to break ground on Thursday.

The project, scheduled for completion in 2027, will consolidate the Markey Center’s services in the new UK Cancer and Advanced Ambulatory Building. Markey’s outpatient services are currently spread across six locations on the UK Chandler Hospital campus. The project also includes an adjacent parking garage estimated to cost $104 million.

The consolidated structure will give patients more convenience, and clinicians and researchers more opportunities to collaborate, UK officials said Thursday.

“This facility will enable our talented clinicians and researchers to work together like never before, accelerating innovations that will directly translate into better outcomes for our patients,” said Dr. B. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center.

Last year, the Markey Center achieved the highest level of recognition from the National Cancer Institute. It’s the only institution in the state with designation as a “comprehensive” cancer center and is among several dozen cancer centers nationally to attain the status. The designation will further bolster cancer research and patient care in the Bluegrass State, UK officials said.

Kentucky has led the nation in incidence rates for lung and bronchus and cervical cancers, while ranking near the top for colon and rectal cancers.

“In a state that still holds the highest cancer rates, this building represents our commitment to expanding care, growing our capacity and, ultimately, conquering cancer in the commonwealth,” Evers said.

In the past 10 years, Markey outpatient clinic visits have increased by 57%, UK said.

The new 550,000-square-foot building will feature a full spectrum of cancer care services — including imaging, labs, urgent care, pharmacy, palliative care and rehabilitation, UK said. It also will house Markey’s outpatient clinics, including chemotherapy infusion, radiation medicine, multidisciplinary oncology, gynecologic oncology, breast care center and hematology/bone marrow transplant. It also will be home to a Comprehensive Spine Center, ambulatory surgery space and other outpatient services.

“This building signifies our commitment to addressing the critical health needs of our state, providing advanced care across various disciplines and ensuring that Kentuckians have access to the most innovative treatments close to home,” said UK President Eli Capilouto.

Construction of the new building is funded by UK HealthCare. The 2,400-space parking structure will be funded separately as a public-private partnership, UK officials said.

State and private funds will be used to support Markey’s programs and services in the new facility. UK trustees approved initial planning and design in 2021.