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Regents approve KU-Saint Luke’s pact to boost cancer research, doctors’ training

An agreement between the University of Kansas and Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City designed to expand training opportunities for medical residents at KU and bolster the drive for a comprehensive cancer center was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents on Oct. 18.

“This agreement will expand our ability to train more doctors at KU, helping to meet the state’s growing need for health professionals. It will also enhance research collaborations, which are vital to our effort to make new treatments available to Kansans,” said Chancellor Robert Hemenway.

The agreement allows for an increase in the number of medical residents trained at KU through a commitment by Saint Luke’s to fund the creation of new resident slots at Saint Luke’s Hospital, providing an additional venue for KU residents’ rotations.

Ultimately, up to 100 new slots could be created for KU medical residents at no cost to Kansas taxpayers. KU Hospital and the KU Medical Center’s hospital partners in Wichita, Via Christi and Wesley Medical Center, will not see a reduction in the number of residents trained at their respective locations as a result of this agreement.

The agreement also opens up opportunities for research collaborations between the two institutions, which is a critical step in the medical center’s quest to partner with all other institutions that want to join KU’s fight against cancer, said Dr. Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center.

“Our goal is to give Kansans access to breakthrough treatments that could save their lives,” said Atkinson.

Nearly 13,000 Kansans are diagnosed with cancer each year, and more than 5,000 die of the disease. KU is currently seeking National Cancer Institute designation for its cancer center, which would make cutting-edge treatments and clinical trials available to patients in Kansas and throughout the region.

As part of the agreement, Saint Luke’s will provide KU Medical Center $1 million annually in unrestricted financial support, sustain a minimum of $15 million in annual expenditures on medical education and clinical research, pay for access to core medical center facilities such as the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center and fund specific research initiatives on a project-by-project basis.

The agreement with Saint Luke’s covers only expanded research and education activities between the two institutions. KU Hospital remains the primary academic, clinical, teaching and research hospital for the university.

Although the KU Medical Center has more than 1,000 affiliations with other partners, KU has made a special effort to keep the Board of Regents informed on the affiliation talks with Saint Luke’s.

“We want to share these details with not only the regents, but with as many people as possible,” said Hemenway. “The long-term vision here is for new discoveries leading to new cures and first-rate care provided by doctors who have had the opportunity to train at both KU Hospital and Saint Luke’s.”

Hemenway said the Saint Luke’s pact was part of a three-part effort to greatly expand the KU Medical Center’s capacity to serve the state and region.

The second element, a new affiliation agreement with KU’s primary teaching hospital partner, KU Hospital, is currently being negotiated, while the third step involves reaching agreement on how Saint Luke’s Hospital and KU Hospital will support the KU Cancer Center, Hemenway said.

The KU Medical Center prepares students for leadership roles in today’s dynamic health care environment through its schools of medicine, nursing and allied health. The medical center offers more than 2,500 students an innovative curriculum and patient-centered clinical training with many partners including KU Hospital. A leader in biomedical research, the KU Medical Center is advancing the life sciences for the region, state and country.

Saint Luke’s Hospital is part of the Kansas not-for-profit corporation Saint Luke’s Health System, an integrated health care network with 11 Kansas and Missouri hospitals and multiple physician offices. Saint Luke’s Health System operates or is a partner in five Kansas hospitals. One-third of its staff, 2,700 employees, live in Kansas and one-third of the patients treated in 2006 were Kansans.

An executive summary and the full KU Medical Center-Saint Luke’s agreement are available online.

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