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Senate Proposes $50 Million Lineberger Commitment

New state Senate backing of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center could propel the center into the top tier of cancer research centers in the U.S.

The Senate’s version of the state budget would pump $50 million annually into the center’s budget. The proposal requires the support of the full N.C. General Assembly.

“What’s been proposed would present UNC with an extraordinary opportunity,” said Dr. Shelley Earp ’70 (MD), director of the Lineberger center. “We already have one of the country’s leading university-based centers, but this would really project us into the first rank. This would provide us with the opportunity to go out and recruit some people … that would enable us to really make a difference in the state.”

According to Dr. Etta Pisano, vice dean for academic affairs in the UNC medical school, it is coming at an ideal time.

“North Carolina’s population is aging, which means we’re going to have more cancer,” she said. The proposal would “create a flow of money that will allow us to invest in the best people, the best resources.”

The money primarily would come from taxpayers and would be devoted to cancer research at UNC Hospitals. The number of people treated a year could rise to 5,000 from the current 3,000, officials say.

The center already is undergoing a major change. In 2004, the General Assembly approved $180 million to construct a clinical cancer hospital on the campus. It is now under construction and expected to open in late 2009.

“It’s going to allow us to enhance the research that we do here,” Earp said. “It will allow us to take these new ways of early detection and prevention and treatment and get them out across the state.”


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