RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Break Ground on Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center
Earlier today, RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, in partnership with the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), broke ground on the state’s first freestanding cancer hospital. At the ceremony, it was also announced that the 510,000-square-foot structure will be named the Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center in recognition of the philanthropic leadership of Jack Morris, who has been a longtime supporter and pillar in New Brunswick development, and his wife, Sheryl.
The 12-story facility, to be located on Somerset Street, will house inpatient, outpatient and ancillary services, as well as state-of-the-art laboratories where research faculty can provide hands-on educational opportunities for students, and enable physician-scientists to translate scientific findings directly to patients. The Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center will enable ease of access for imaging and other diagnostic tests, treatment and follow-up exams all in one space. It will also have the capacity to offer wellness and education resources including offerings catered specifically to the needs of cancer survivors. The estimated project cost is $750 million.
“There is nothing that feels better or more gratifying than helping others in need,” said Jack Morris. “Cancer touches the lives of everyone – and we believe that people should not have to travel to New York or Pennsylvania to get great cancer care. It has been our vision, our hope and our dream to have the top cancer center in the nation right here in New Brunswick. Sheryl and I are so proud that we can play a role in helping to make this dream a reality.”
“RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers are widely recognized as leaders in health care and life-sciences, and the addition of the Cancer Center represents a significant step forward in New Jersey’s fight against cancer,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “Through the development of this new cancer pavilion, these world-class entities will continue to be at the forefront of research, innovation, and cancer care, serving as a leader for our state and nation. This center will provide patients with the most sophisticated cancer treatment available with access to the latest technology and medicine New Jersey has to offer. I am grateful to RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers for their commitment and proud to support this effort that will further provide access to the latest treatments for cancer patients across New Jersey and beyond.”
“Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey together with RWJBarnabas Health already serves as a destination for advanced cancer treatments including clinical trials, stem cell transplantation, proton therapy and CAR T-cell therapy. This trailblazing facility will help us further our mission in the delivery of outstanding comprehensive oncology care for our state and improving the health and well-being of our residents,” stated Barry H. Ostrowsky, president and chief executive officer, RWJBarnabas Health. “Jack Morris has been the greatest champion of this project since its inception. The magnitude of this generosity propels Jack and Sheryl into the ranks of visionary philanthropists who have helped to change the course of health care in New Jersey.”
“The next stage of the war on cancer will be waged right here in New Brunswick. Cancer has touched each and every one of us in different ways. This new state-of-the-art cancer center arms us with the science, medicine and critical resources to fight back like never before and gives new hope to thousands of current cancer patients and to those who have yet to be diagnosed,” said New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill.
DEVCO President Christopher Paladino agreed: “The Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center represents incredible progress in our city’s growth and will further enhance the world-class fabric of the New Brunswick landscape. Not only will it provide employment and educational opportunities to our immediate community, but this revolutionary structure also will represent the ‘best of the best’ and serve as a cancer destination for the Northeast.”
The facility – which will be positioned adjacent to the existing Rutgers Cancer Institute building and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – also will house state-of-the-art research laboratories. Scientific investigation is a core pillar of Rutgers Cancer Institute, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“The Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center will amplify our ability to more quickly translate groundbreaking discoveries from the laboratory directly to the patient in addition to providing numerous amenities critical to the cancer journey all in one footprint. Keeping the patient at the center of all we do is paramount to bringing exceptional cancer care to our patients,” noted Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Steven K. Libutti, who is also the senior vice president of oncology services at RWJBarnabas Health. “I am humbled by the passion and commitment of the Morris family and the many other donors who I know will join them. Their support will further propel us into the future of cancer discovery and care, and for that we are truly grateful.”
Patient experience goes beyond receiving quality and comprehensive cancer therapy. It also encompasses treatment of the whole patient. Treated at Rutgers Cancer Institute, Keosha Doyle of Somerset knows this well. Diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, at age 27, Ms. Doyle felt confident knowing that her oncologist was an expert at treating her specific cancer and more. She shared her story with attendees at today’s event.
“This new cancer center demonstrates a strong commitment to academic medicine in our state. With an emphasis on research, education, prevention, and patient care, this facility will give New Jersey cancer patients enhanced access to the latest treatments – fueled in part by scientific investigation conducted at Rutgers and by numerous other partners,” added Jonathan Holloway, president, Rutgers University.
“With the RWJBarnabas health system we are looking forward to a healthier future in which our citizens can receive all the care that they need without ever leaving the state of New Jersey,” said Brian L. Strom, chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for health affairs, Rutgers University. “Now, in our tireless quest to improve the life and health of our citizens, New Jersey opens another front in the war against disease, focused on cancer.”
“Not only does this new cancer center directly align with Middlesex County’s history of fostering and investing in innovation and collaboration, but we recognized from the onset the immense benefits and opportunities this facility will bring to our community – creating a pathway for residents to receive advanced cancer treatment, new job opportunities and career paths in multiple disciplines. This growth strategy is consistent with the county’s efforts around Destination 2040, a master economic roadmap to enhance the lives and businesses in our community,” stated Ronald G. Rios, director, Board of Middlesex County Commissioners.
The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
By Michele Fisher