Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute opened on October 26, 1986, on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida. With cancer as a major public health threat in Florida, Moffitt has one priority – fighting cancer through patient care, education and research. The current President/CEO is Dr. William S. Dalton.
Funding for construction of the initial $70-million facility came primarily from the state’s cigarette tax, while the momentum to create the Center came from a cadre of legislators, physicians, educators and business leaders who envisioned a new dimension of cancer care and research in Florida.
In 1978, H. Lee Moffitt, a Florida State Representative, recognized the need for a comprehensive cancer center within the State. With the help of the dean of the University of South Florida College of Medicine, he sought community support and convinced the State Legislature to fund the facility. During the Center’s planning phase, consultants associated with renowned NCI cancer centers were retained to ensure that the finished facility would be as technologically advanced and as efficiently designed as possible.
Groundbreaking ceremonies took place in January 1983. The Center was incorporated in the spring of 1984 and was named for H. Lee Moffitt, then Speaker of the State House of Representatives. The building was dedicated in October 1986 and admitted its first patients that same month.
In 1990, the acquisition of the Research Center building across from the Cancer Center enhanced the recruitment of scientists, clinicians and support staff and expanded Moffitt’s vision beyond the original structure. The Moffitt Research Center became the focal point for basic and translational cancer research with the overriding goal to produce discoveries that could be translated quickly from the bench to the patient’s bedside. The Florida Legislature allocated $12 million for renovation and equipment for this 100,000-square-foot structure, and the Moffitt Research Center became fully operational in 1995. In 1999, 48,000 square feet of basic research lab space was added to the Moffitt Research Center at a cost of $11 million to house the growing need for additional scientists.
On June 10, 1998, in a ceremonial signing at Moffitt, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles approved a legislative initiative to fund construction of the Moffitt Tower Project, which opened in April 2003, adding more than 350,000 square feet of new space. A dramatic addition to the Moffitt campus, this major expansion includes the four-story Vincent A. Stabile Research Building, named in recognition of the largest private donation ever made to the Cancer Center by retired businessman and philanthropist Vincent A. Stabile, and the expansion of the Moffitt Clinic. In addition to new research laboratories, which nearly double the Cancer Center’s research capabilities, the new facilities include a digital imaging center, a new infusion center, an auditorium and conference center, a 586-car parking garage, and an auto plaza for easy pick-up and drop-off of patients and visitors.
In 1991, Moffitt successfully recruited John "Jack" Ruckdeschel, M.D., to the position of Center Director, President and CEO. Under Ruckdeschel's leadership, Moffitt became a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2001 – one of the youngest Centers in the country to achieve this prestigious designation. In 2006, the NCI renewed Moffitt’s Cancer Center Support Grant for another five years. The NCI review highlighted the following strengths of Moffitt Cancer Center: expanded research in cancer prevention and control; active collaboration between bench and clinical scientists; significant focus on early-phase, investigator-initiated clinical trials; careful recruitment of scientists in molecular and cancer genetics; and the potential to expand the reach of Moffitt research with the Total Cancer Care initiative. Currently Moffitt receives more than $50 million annually in peer-reviewed grant monies.
In 2002, Ruckdeschel stepped down, and William "Bill" Dalton, Ph.D., M.D., became Moffitt's third President, CEO and Center Director.
Moffitt has 161 licensed beds and more than 3,000 employees. There are scientific programs in Molecular Oncology, Drug Discovery, Immunology, Experimental Therapeutics, Health Outcomes and Behavior and Risk Assessment, Detection and Intervention. It also serves as the site for the Bill and Beverly Young National Functional Genomics Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.
In 2006, Moffitt announced an exciting collaboration with Merck & Co., Inc to expand its efforts in research and biotech with the goal of developing personalized medicine. The multi-site project – which will develop one of the single largest bio-repositories in the country -- involves collecting thousands of tumor tissues and clinical data from patients across the state of Florida. Moffitt and Merck will use sophisticated technology to analyze each patient’s tumor to identify its “fingerprint” or marker specific to that tumor. By studying and comparing a patient’s response to specific treatments, scientists will be able to identify drugs that will give physicians the knowledge they need to individualize treatment for patients with a specific type of cancer.
To enhance Moffitt’s ability to establish this large research initiative the cancer center formed a for-profit company, M2GEN, located in Hillsborough County. The state of Florida, Hillsborough County and City of Tampa, are providing economic incentives to bring this biotechnology effort to Florida.
In January of 2008 the Moffitt Center, the University of Florida, and Shands formed a partnership to develop world-class programs in cancer care, research and prevention. The partnership, will extend Moffitt’s innovative model of comprehensive patient care to UF and Shands cancer programs.