New Facility at Georgia Cancer Center Expected to Help Advance Treatment, Collaboration
After Kim Gauldin walked onto the stage at the site of the new M. Bert Storey Building at the Georgia Cancer Center on Monday, she called it “the bridge of chances.”
Since 2016, Gauldin has battled Stage 4 ovarian cancer. She’s not as lucky as some; over the last two years, the cancer has not gone into remission. Instead, it remains chronic. Gauldin has undergone a number of clinical trials, always relying on her doctor to, as she says, pull something new out of his back pocket.
“I understand the true potential this brings to Augusta, Ga.,” Gauldin said of the new building, which is being described as a connector between the research bench and patient bedside. “Augusta University Health will be among the elite research centers in our country.”
“Hope now has specific goals and action,” she continued. “And for that reason, I’ll refer to the bridge between the two facilities as ‘the bridge of chances.’ Another chance there is something else in (the doctor’s) back pocket for myself and others offering the blessing of continued life.”
On Monday, that chance came in the form of the new, $62.5 million M. Bert Storey Research Building, $50 million of which came from the state and $12.5 million of which came from philanthropic efforts. It’s a 222,000 square-foot building with 58,000 square feet of lab space with radiation therapy research platforms, meeting spaces, training spaces, lectures and community-wide forums on cancer-related topics.
The Cancer Center also includes a 60,000-square-foot outpatient clinic, a 25,000 square-foot radiation therapy building, significant clinical research (75 trials, 22 percent of which are early phase trials) and community outreach and education.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal was in attendance at the dedication and spoke about the hardships, struggles and victories that his wife Sandra has undergone in her own battle with breast cancer.
“This center today is designed to do what we as individuals cannot do, and that is to try to find a cure, a prevention and an effective treatment for this very, very dreaded disease,” Deal said. “As I said in the beginning, it is personal.”
Throughout the ceremony, speakers continually mentioned the M. Bert Storey Building as a step toward a major goal of the Georgia Cancer Center: becoming a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated facility, which would make it only the third in all of Georgia and South Carolina. The other two are Emory University in Atlanta and the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
“There’s a road ahead…it could take 5 years, it could take 10 years,” said Barry Storey, Bert’s son. “But I promise everyone here that with a continued support of our Governor-elect Kemp, our state legislature, our Board of Regents that have played such an important role in getting us to the point, and most importantly our local community, we can achieve that designation.”