KU Cancer Center accepts $143 million for new building to advance research, care

Sunderland Foundation’s $100 million gift largest in KC organization’s history

by Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector
June 27, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The University of Kansas Cancer Center accepted a $100 million donation from the Sunderland Foundation and secured $43 million in federal funding to build a state-of-the-art facility to advance research and treatment of cancer.

The Sunderland Foundation’s gift was the largest ever made by the Kansas City organization and the biggest received by the University of Kansas as well as the University of Kansas Health System.

“Giving people the opportunity to receive such a high level of quality cancer treatment close to home is a gift like no other,” said Charlie Sunderland of the family foundation rooted in Kansas City with a history of supporting capital building projects. “We believe the University of Kansas Cancer Center is poised to change cancer research and care for generations.”

The federal allocation directed at construction and research elements of the facility was secured through advocacy of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said the $43 million from the federal government was in legislation signed by President Joe Biden and would expand the KU Cancer Center’s ability to recruit the best doctors from around the world and offer innovative treatments to people suffering from cancer.

KU chancellor Doug Girod said the foundation gift and federal appropriation would improve cancer research and patient care while fulfilling the university’s duty to provide public education and outreach programs. He said the development would improve services to high-risk populations and diverse communities.

“More broadly,” he said, “by strengthening KU Cancer Center, this funding elevates the entire university and strengthens KU’s position as a leading national research institution.”

The KU Cancer Center received a national cancer institute designation a year ago to rank among 54 facilities with elite cancer medical programs.

The new building would bring the center’s laboratories, researchers and staff together with patients now scattered across campuses in the Kansas City area and Lawrence. Additional funding would be required to complete the building project, but KU officials didn’t have a firm estimate of the total cost.

“Our vision is for the University of Kansas Cancer Center to be a beacon of hope and a global destination for both those with cancer and for scientists and clinicians seeking to cure cancer,” said Roy Jensen, a physician and director of the KU Cancer Center. “This building will be a hub that brings together leading-edge patient care and innovation as we seek to transform both cancer care and cancer research in our quest to cure cancer together.”

The structure would be located at 39th and Rainbow on the KU Health System campus. It would be built in phases with initial groundbreaking anticipated in late 2024. It would deliver to patients in one location advanced clinical trials and therapies developed onsite.

“We do big things in Kansas City, due in large part to the generosity and vision of people like Charlie and Kent Sunderland and the Sunderland Foundation,” said Bob Page, president and chief executive officer of the KU Health System. “We not only will save more lives, we will change more lives and our community for the better.”

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttp://www.sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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