Sept. 29, 2006 — At its meeting this morning, the Board of Visitors unanimously approved the naming of the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, the Barry and Bill Battle Building at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, and the Ivy Foundation Translational Research Building: three new Health System buildings that will be constructed as a result of last December’s $45 million gift from the Ivy Foundation — one of the largest contributions in University history.
Speaking from the Dome Room of the Rotunda, President John T. Casteen III acknowledged the Ivy Foundation’s “unprecedented and remarkable commitment to transform the landscape of health care in the commonwealth of Virginia” through its ongoing generosity, which has included past support for U.Va.’s biomedical programs, funds for endowed professorships in pediatrics, fellowships for researchers in the basic medical sciences, and the more recent $45 million gift to support these three capital projects.
The namings occurred just hours before the board is scheduled officially to launch the University’s $3 billion fund-raising campaign. Included in that goal is a $500 million target for the U.Va. Health System.
In keeping with the foundation’s wishes, the board named the cancer facility the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, thereby paying tribute to “the tireless work” of the late Virginia state senator and her efforts to acquire new resources for cancer care and research in the Commonwealth, including access to promising clinical trials, Casteen said. Before losing her personal battle with pancreatic cancer in 2001, he added, she had invited the University to envision a cancer center that met the individual needs of each patient and that treated the whole person, not just the disease.
“Most people remember her simply as Emily,” Casteen said. “She had an impact on our community that was extraordinary. Sen. Couric believed that each patient should have access to clinical trials and individualized care. She introduced legislation mandating insurance coverage for preventive screenings and clinical trials.”
The board named the Barry and Bill Battle Building at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital to honor two longtime champions of children’s health in the Charlottesville community.
Calling the Battles “effective advocates for children’s health in central Virginia,” Casteen noted that Barry Battle has been involved with the Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years. She chaired the Children’s Medical Center Committee when it was created in the 1980s, as well as the first Children’s Hospital telethon. She recently joined the U.Va. Children’s Hospital Campaign Steering Committee.
Her husband, William C. Battle, is chair of the Ivy Foundation and a former member of the Board of Visitors. A graduate of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences (1941) and School of Law (1947) and former chairman and CEO of Fieldcrest Mills, he chaired the University’s first comprehensive fund-raising campaign between 1981 and 1984.
“This new facility will enhance an unmatched legacy of caring for children in Virginia by allowing multiple specialists to work side by side, jointly consulting with patients to delvier the best possible care,” Casteen said.
The board named the Ivy Foundation Translational Research Building in recognition of the foundation’s support for advancing scientific inquiry. The facility, Casteen said, will “provide much-needed space to house researchers and programs that will accelerate the timeline from laboratory-bench discovery to patient-care delivery.”
The Ivy Foundation was created in 2000 with funds remaining from the closure of the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. Its assets increased significantly with the 2004 sale of Upstate Group, a company whose principals included Battle and Ivy Foundation vice chair Sheridan G. Snyder, a 1958 graduate of U.Va.’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“The Ivy Foundation and its trustees have been invaluable partners in our efforts to develop new models of medical research and patient care that can be emulated worldwide,” said Arthur Garson Jr., vice president and dean of U.Va.’s School of Medicine and an Ivy Foundation trustee. “With this gift, they have laid the foundation for excellence in our basic and clinical research programs and our ability to take discoveries from the lab bench to the bedside.”
In addition to Battle, Snyder and Garson, other trustees of the foundation include William Black, Patricia Edgerton, Aaron Shatkin and Battle’s son, Dr. Robert W. Battle, a 1984 graduate of the U.Va. School of Medicine.
Plans for the New Health System Buildings
The Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center will be a place where families can come for support in their fight against cancer and know that they will receive the most advanced therapies possible. Construction is expected to begin by 2009. State support also will advance this effort. The 2006-08 Biennial Budget passed by the General Assembly contains $25 million of supplemental general funds to construct the clinical cancer center, originally authorized in 2005.
The building will accommodate advances in such areas as genetic diagnosis and analysis, informatics and molecular biology, which will make possible cancer therapies designed specifically for each patient’s genetic makeup. It will be organized so that all disciplines and services are available to the patient in one setting, providing care that is sophisticated, well integrated and convenient.
“Senator Couric believed that each patient should have access to the latest clinical trials and individualized care,” said R. Edward Howell, vice president and chief executive officer of the University of Virginia Medical Center. “Within the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, we will be able to offer the best possible resources for our community and for patients across the Commonwealth in an environment that is caring, supportive and state-of-the-art.”
Continued fund-raising for the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center is at the heart of an overall campaign for cancer care focused on accelerating the pace of cancer research and the introduction of effective new therapies. Honorary chair of the Cancer Center’s campaign is Senator Couric’s sister, Katie (Arts & Sciences ’79), the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News.
In a statement written the afternoon prior to the board’s unanimous endorsement of the names for the new Health System buildings, Katie Couric talked about her sister: “Emily cared about people most of all and she was one of the most empathetic individuals I've ever encountered,” Couric wrote. “She understood that cancer is a disease that may be treated with medicine, but that patients need comfort and compassion. She was also mindful of how cancer affects the entire family. She would want all of these things incorporated into a center that treats the patient not just the disease.”
The tribute to her sister, she admitted, was “bittersweet … because we wish Emily could still be here, being the wonderful sister, daughter, mother and wife that she was and still doing extraordinary work for the people of Virginia. But to know she had such a tremendous impact on the people of the Commonwealth — both while she was served as State Senator and during her courageous battle with cancer — is very gratifying.
“Anytime there is a public face on a personal disease it increases awareness and advocacy. Clearly research is the key to defeating this disease and translating that research into effective treatments for patients is the only way real progress will be made. Cancer researchers and scientists are among the unsung heroes of our society and trying to crack the code of a myriad of cancers is laborious to say the least. But only with the collective brain power of scientists from institutions like UVa, and those around the world, will we conquer this disease that continues to devastate so many families, as it did ours.”
The Barry and Bill Battle Building at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital will bring several pediatric outpatient services under one roof, creating a central hub for interdisciplinary care. It will house a clinical trials suite and Children’s Clinical Research Office to foster the development of new treatments. The building will allow specialists in multiple disciplines to work side by side, jointly consulting with patients and families to deliver the best care possible. Construction is expected to begin by 2010.
The Ivy Foundation Translational Research Building will house much-needed laboratory space for medical research at U.Va. Work there will focus on efforts to accelerate the progress from lab-bench discoveries to direct improvements in patient care. In the new building, teams of basic and clinical researchers will collaborate on translational research focused on drug discovery, drug development, clinical testing and new methods of prevention and early detection of disease. Their work will lead not only to new therapies but also to a more precise understanding of how these therapies are working in individual patients.
Construction of the Ivy Foundation Translational Research Building is expected to begin by 2009.
In other business, the Board of Visitors approved the creation of two new professorships: a professorship in palliative care, which was made possible by a gift from John W. Kluge and the John W. Kluge Foundation, and the Ivy Foundation Pratt Professorship in Morphogenesis, which was the result of a 2002 commitment of the Ivy Foundation and resources from the John Lee Pratt Fund. Mr. Pratt was a 1905 graduate of U.Va. with a degree in civil engineering.