University of Florida Health Cancer Center

The UHFCC is a matrix cancer center that spans schools, departments, centers and disciplines to support high quality research into cancer prevention, cancer causation and etiology and cancer therapeutics for the catchment area of Northern and Central Florida of roughly 1.8 million people.

Prominent cancer problems in the region include tobacco use and low vaccination rates against virally caused cancers and uneven access to healthcare. Major incident cancers in the catchment area are lung, head and neck, prostate, bladder, colorectal, liver, pancreas, breast, and leukemia and lymphoma.

The cancer center leadership includes:

Jonathan D. Licht, MD                        Director

John Wingard, MD                             Deputy Director

Rolf Renne, PhD                               Associate Director for Basic Sciences

Thom George, MD                             Associate Director for Clinical Investigation

Elizabeth Shenkman, RN                     Associate Director for Population Sciences

Dietmar Siemann, PhD                       Associate Director for Cancer Research Career Enhancement

Steven Madore, PHD                         Associate Director for Core Technologies

Robert Houlihan, DHA                        Associate Director for Administration

Merry-Jennifer Markham, MD               Associate Director for Medical Affairs

The cancer center’s 149 members are drawn from faculty of the health sciences schools (Medicine, Nursing, Health Professions, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy) as well as members from across the entire campus including the College of Engineering, College of Liberals Arts and Sciences (Chemistry, Journalism) College of Human Performance and the Institute for Agricultural Sciences. Cancer Center members hold more than $33 million/year in extramural cancer research funding including $11 million from the National Cancer Institute, Major recruitment efforts since 2014 have added over 25 new members to the cancer center with another 15-20 expected to join by 2019. The cancer center offers a wide range of research opportunities for trainees in clinical, translational and basic research.

The cancer center is organized into three research programs:

Mechanisms of Oncogenesis (led by Robert Hromas, MD) – Basic research into the molecular origins of cancer including the study of abnormal gene regulation in cancer, viral oncogenesis and mechanisms of repair of the genome in response to mutagenic insult.

Cancer Therapeutics and Host Response (co-led by Duane Mitchell, MD, PhD, and Christian Jobin, PhD) – Studies of small molecule and immuno-therapeutics of cancer and the role of inflammation and the microbiome in cancer etiology and cancer therapy.

Cancer Population Sciences (co-led by Janice Krieger, PhD, and Diane Wilkie, PhD, RN) – Includes studies of tobacco addiction and cessation strategies, communication strategies with cancer patients, methods of implementation and uptake of recent advances into clinical practice, cancer epidemiology, health economics and health policy.

The Cancer Center administration is located in the Cancer and Genetic Complex and the cancer center controls laboratory space for up to 200 bench scientists in the GCRC and Basic Sciences building. The cancer center along with the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology of the University of Florida supports core facilities including high throughput DNA and genome sequencing, flow cytometry, microscopy and mass spectroscopy.

The Cancer Center Clinical Trials office, under the leadership of Dr. Thom George and administrative director Alison Ivey, RN opens and manages clinical trials that originate from within the University of Florida based upon scientific ideas generated here, from national inter-institutional collaborative groups and from industry partners. All trials are entered, tracked, and managed in a paperless electronic clinical trials management system. Over 30 persons in the clinical trial office handle regulatory affairs, budgeting, patient screening, data abstraction and trial monitoring.  Last year over 86 interventional clinical trials were open for accrual, with over 150 patients enrolled onto clinical trials.

The cancer center is supported by funding through the college of medicine, the state of Florida Cancer Center preeminence initiative, and community support that includes a number of endowments.

Dr. Jonathan Licht MD
Director, UFHCC