Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

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History & Overview

Statue of Harcourt Sylvester Jr.

Statue of Harcourt Sylvester Jr.

A series of exciting milestones led to the creation of Sylvester. In fact, the cancer center’s rich history dates back to 1973, when it was known as the Comprehensive Cancer Center for the State of Florida. One year later, the first Cancer Control Research Program for the State of Florida was initiated at the cancer center by Dr. Jack Healey.

The Regional Cancer Information Service office, funded by the National Cancer Institute, was established at Sylvester in 1976. The Cancer Information Service was the foremost source of cancer information for patients, their families, the general public, and health professionals in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In 1986, philanthropist Harcourt Sylvester Jr. pledged $27.5 million to benefit cancer programs at the medical school. In recognition of the largest gift to date to the University of Miami, the cancer center was renamed the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in honor of Mr. Sylvester’s parents, Harcourt Sr. and Virginia. To date, the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation has committed more than $50 million to fund programs at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

Groundbreaking for the new clinical facility was held May 17, 1989, and the 117,500 square-foot cancer center opened in June 1992.

In 1996, W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., F.A.C.S., was appointed director of Sylvester in an effort to fully integrate clinical care and research. Today, Sylvester serves as the hub for cancer-related research, diagnosis, and treatment at UHealth—University of Miami Health System, and is the only university-based cancer center in South Florida.

Sylvester brings together leading cancer specialists to conduct cutting-edge, inter-disciplinary and multidisciplinary research; provide world class, site-based, multi-disciplinary care; and develop innovative medical education programs for students from across the globe. Since 1986, Sylvester physicians have treated more than 100,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients at Sylvester/UMHC, and its community partner, Jackson Memorial Hospital. More than 250 physicians and scientists from 18 different departments at the University collaborate in support of Sylvester’s mission, “to reduce the human burden from cancer.”

In 2010, after 14 years as director, Dr. Goodwin was appointed chief medical officer of Sylvester/UMHC. In his new role, he will build and strengthen the cancer center’s clinical capabilities, focusing on site-based, multi-disciplinary care, state-of-the-art facilities, and further growth and expansion. Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., serves as director of Sylvester, with Marc Lippman, M.D., as deputy director.

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