The Louisiana State Legislature has a high priority on addressing cancer in Louisiana. Since 2001, legislators have advanced several actions, committing well over $250 million to foster the development of a high level of cancer research, education and care in Louisiana. Still driven by the horrific mortality statistics and the staggering costs to the state’s economy from productivity losses of approximately $400 million annually due to excessive early death, Louisiana remains committed to the fight against cancer.
In 2002, the State Legislature provided for the creation of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center of LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans/Tulane Health Sciences Center (LCRC). Legislators also levied a new tax of 3 cents per pack of cigarettes to fund research and infrastructure initiatives coordinated by LCRC, which created a dedicated and ongoing annual funding stream of approximately $10 million per year. Recently, however, as a testament to the success of our tobacco free living outreach, we are seeing a decline in tax revenue from cigarette sales.
Today, LCRC, a 501(c)3 entity, provides an organizational umbrella for a four-partner consortium focused on conducting research and promoting education in the diagnosis, detection and treatment of cancer while supporting the Center’s pursuit of a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. We are grateful for the support and confidence of the State Legislature, community members, and granting agencies and remain dedicated to securing a sizable return on their investment, while maintaining our goal to positively impact the lives of Louisiana’s citizens. Our faculty members continue to be successful in acquiring major cancer research grants despite sharply increased national competition and decreased funding for biomedical research across granting agencies. Our LCRC-affiliated researchers have ongoing and new clinical trials and continue to enroll patients into trials. In 2011, there were over 1,000 patients enrolled in an LCRC-affiliated clinical trial. We also continue to expand our research expertise, as well as our geographic impact in the state through training opportunities.
We are committed to leveraging both the State’s investment and the contributions made by LCRC supporters, to build competitiveness for pursuing an NCI-designation. Our new 10-story, $85 million state-of-the-art research facility located in New Orleans is part of the LCRC plan to build competitiveness for NCI designation. This building is one symbol of the State of Louisiana’s commitment to eradicating cancer among its citizens. The State also recognizes this structure and the work conducted under the LCRC umbrella as the beginning of what will be a progressive biomedical corridor emanating from New Orleans and throughout the greater region.
A functioning NCI- designated cancer center in Louisiana would play a large role in reducing the number of deaths from cancer. In addition to an improved quality of life and a stronger infrastructure to serve the medically underserved, the state would likely see other benefits as well, such as decreased loss-of-productivity costs and increased overall economic impacts. For instance, studies indicate that a region with an NCI-designated center experiences growth in job creation, increases in salaries and growth in overall business activity.