Joe Biden to serve as keynote speaker at Buffett Cancer Center dedication

Biden has said he will spend the rest of his life fighting to eradicate the disease. (Photo: MGN)

Joe Biden, the former two-term vice president who headed a national Cancer Moonshot Task Force, will serve as keynote speaker at the May 23 ribbon cutting and dedication of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

This new facility, which opens to patients in early June, is the largest project ever for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine.

The project is located on the Omaha campus and includes:

  • The Suzanne and Walter Scott Cancer Research Tower, a 10-story, 98-laboratory research tower;
  • The C.L. Werner Cancer Hospital, an eight-story, 108-bed inpatient treatment center; and
  • A multidisciplinary outpatient center which includes clinics, radiation oncology, surgery, radiology, a 24/7 treatment center, lab and collaborative treatment/diagnostics.

“The former vice president is the perfect speaker to mark the momentum and excitement surrounding the opening of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center,” said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

“We’re pleased that Joe Biden will join us on one of the most significant days in our medical center’s history,” Gold said. “Mr. Biden led the White House Cancer Moonshot to enhance cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care and is now launching his own Biden Cancer Initiative.

“To have his participation in the dedication of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is significant – especially for our community of researchers, health providers and patients. Like the Moonshot, this cancer center is uniquely designed to bolster the collaborations necessary to eliminate this disease.”

The former vice president’s son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015, at age 46.

Biden has said he will spend the rest of his life fighting to eradicate the disease.

Attendance is limited for the ticketed event, and all tickets have been distributed.

The public is encouraged to view the 2 p.m. dedication and ribbon-cutting via Facebook Live on the UNMC, Nebraska Medicine and Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center accounts, or via the following Livestream link:

The link will be live 30 minutes before the event (call 402-559-8090 with technical issues only).

All community members and their families and friends are invited to a public open house on Saturday, May 27 from 9 a.m. to noon to see the facility with:

  • Specialty operating rooms;
  • State-of-the-art intensive care unit;
  • Resource and wellness center;
  • 24/7 treatment center;
  • In-site clinical lab service; and
  • Patient amenities including the use of high-technology tablets so inpatients can see who their caregivers are, ask questions, see their labs and what tests are coming – all to help alleviate the anxiety typically associated with a hospital stay.

In addition to breakthrough “precision medicine” that targets the disease itself, the center also takes a holistic approach to health care with a healing arts program that includes commissioned artwork by such internationally acclaimed artists as Dale Chihuly (the Chihuly Sanctuary, given by Suzanne and Walter Scott) and Jun Kaneko of Omaha (the 82-foot-tall ‘Search’ tower funded by an anonymous donor).

The center also features Leslie’s Healing Garden, an outdoor, all-season garden created with support from Marshall and Mona Faith; as well as commissioned artwork by Rob Ley, Suzy Taekyung Kim, Matthew Placzek, Mary Zicafoose and Jennifer Steinkamp.

Nebraska Medicine CEO Daniel DeBehnke, M.D., M.B.A., said a speaker of Biden’s stature is indicative of how the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is viewed in the cancer-fighting world.

“It is exciting to have the former vice president on campus,” DeBehnke said. “As the former head of the Cancer Moonshot, there are few who have a better holistic view of what we need to do in the future to fight cancer. His coming here is the ultimate stamp of approval that the future is now, and the future is here, at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.”

Unique in its design, the Buffett Cancer Center is the most fully integrated cancer center in the world, said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

The 615,000-square-foot center, with hallways as long as football fields, puts clinical providers in close proximity with their research colleagues with the goal of more efficiently translating research to patient care.

“The goal of the Cancer Moonshot is to remove barriers to progress, and so it is fitting to have Joe Biden join us Tuesday as we dedicate a building that removes barriers and builds a sense of shared purpose among researchers, health care teams and patients,” Cowan said.

The teams at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center are specifically focused on breast cancer and other women’s cancers, leukemia and lymphoma, lung cancer, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers, prostate cancer, head and neck cancer, and cancers diagnosed in childhood.

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