GW, SA working to build cancer center

A united front of University officials and Student Association President Audai Shakour is working to support the construction of a state-of-the-art cancer research center on campus.

Upon city approval, the University plans to redevelop Lot 39, just west of the GW Hospital at 2300 K St., where the Warwick building stands. The facility would house all cancer research, patient care and outreach initiatives at the University, which are currently in at least three separate buildings across campus. University officials said it may be five years before construction begins.

“After we receive acceptance of the campus plan by the city, then the long process of planning and fundraising to create a state-of-the-art facility begins,” said John Williams, provost and vice president for health affairs. He added that no definitive architectural plans have been completed yet.

“There are many different proposals regarding what to do with this space, and Audai is acting as a voice of support for the development of a cancer and science research center,” said sophomore Casey Pond, SA vice president of public affairs.

The University has worked with the SA to decide how to best develop the area around the old hospital site, known as Square 54. GW has announced plans to build commercial facilities there.

“I’m happy to hear of the SA’s support for the center because we love to involve students in everything that we do,” Williams said.

While the University has a Cancer Institute for cancer research and treatment efforts, it is spread throughout campus in Ross Hall, the GW Hospital, the Warwick Building and other areas.

“Incumbent on the city’s approval of the campus plan, we believe it’s possible to bring everything together in one place,” Williams said.

The University will seek input from District officials and members of the Foggy Bottom community before the plan is completed, Williams added.

“We’re moving in a very deliberate, respectful way with the community,” Williams said.

Dr. Steven Patierno, director of GW’s Cancer Institute, said that if developed, the new comprehensive cancer research center would reorganize the different parts of GW that study cancer into one consolidated facility.

In addition to School of Medicine students, the institute works with undergraduate students from the School of Public Health and Health Services, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the biology department, the chemistry department and other departments, Patierno said, to teach students about public health.

Numerous other U.S. colleges and universities such as Yale University, New York University and Duke University have cancer research centers similar to GW’s proposed model.

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