Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

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History & Overview

Statue of Harcourt Sylvester Jr.

Statue of Harcourt Sylvester Jr.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, is the only university-based cancer center in South Florida and serves as the hub for cancer-related research, diagnosis, and treatment at UHealth. A 2015 study by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York that was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that patients treated at an elite group of academic cancer centers that includes Sylvester have a 10 percent higher chance of survival than patients treated at community hospitals.

A series of exciting milestones led to the creation of Sylvester. 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 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 on May 17, 1989, and the 117,500 square-foot cancer center opened in June 1992.

Under the leadership of Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., who joined the cancer center as director in 2012, Sylvester was designated a Cancer Center of Excellence by the state of Florida in March 2015, and re-certified in 2017, one of only four in the state. Over the past three years, Sylvester has recruited more than 75 cancer experts from the nation’s top cancer institutions and has become a magnet for the recruitment of international cancer scientists who are leaders in their fields. Each individual contributes to the rich, interdisciplinary milieu of Sylvester’s more than 130 cancer specialists and 115 cancer researchers, who collaborate with researchers from colleges across the University of Miami and institutions around the world.

Cancer doctors and researchers at Sylvester discover, develop and deliver more-targeted therapies leading to better outcomes, providing the next generation of cancer clinical care – precision cancer medicine – to each patient. Our comprehensive diagnostics coupled with teams of scientific and clinical experts who specialize in just one type of cancer, enable us to better understand each patient’s individual cancer and develop treatments that target the cells and genes driving the cancer’s growth and survival.

At Sylvester, patients have access to more treatment options and more cancer clinical trials than most hospitals in the southeastern United States. To better serve current and future patients, Sylvester has created a network of conveniently located outpatient treatment facilities in Miami, Kendall, Hollywood, Plantation, Deerfield Beach and Coral Springs, and The Lennar Foundation Medical Center.

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