University of Maryland School of Medicine and Advanced Particle Therapy LLC Break Ground on $200 Million Proton Therapy Cancer Treatment Center In BioPark
The University of Maryland School of Medicine and Advanced Particle Therapy LLC of San Diego, Calif., have broken ground on a new, more than $200 million proton treatment center, bringing to Maryland for the first time the most advanced radiation technology in cancer treatment. The Maryland Proton Treatment Center will be just the 12th such center in the United States, and the only one in the Baltimore-Washington region. The facility will be housed in an 110,000-square-foot building in the University of Maryland BioPark on the University of Maryland's founding campus in Baltimore. The building will include space for retail.
"Proton therapy represents the next-generation improvement in radiation oncology," says William F. Regine, MD, (pictured) the Isadore & Fannie Schneider Foxman Endowed Chair in Radiation Oncology and interim chair of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "It allows us the unprecedented ability to deliver a targeted dose of lifesaving radiation therapy directly to the tumor while minimizing radiation to the healthy tissue. It can result in a more effective treatment for patients with fewer side effects. This technology is a powerful new addition to our toolbox for fighting cancer."
The School of Medicine's radiation oncology practice plan (University of Maryland Radiation Oncology Associates P.A.) has signed an agreement with the Maryland Proton Treatment Center to provide clinical management and therapeutic services, including physician services and medical direction. The radiation oncology faculty physicians are members of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center team. Maryland Proton Treatment Center LLC will design, build, equip, and own the center.
"We are thrilled to break ground on this exciting project today, bringing for the first time this cutting-edge, cancer-fighting technology to the residents of this region," says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "The University of Maryland School of Medicine is a world-class research-intensive institution, and our experts are internationally known in the field of radiation oncology. Our Greenebaum Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated center, ranked 21st among the nearly 900 cancer centers in the nation, by U.S. News and World Report. It is this outstanding expertise that has attracted this project to Baltimore, along with the initial private investment of more than $200 million and the addition of new highly skilled, high-paying jobs to operate the center."
"The relationship we celebrate today between the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Advanced Particle Therapy represents another public-private partnership that also brings over $200 million in investment while providing life-giving proton therapy to cancer patients for the first time in the Baltimore-Washington region," says Gov. Martin O'Malley. "In addition to the hundreds of construction jobs and 175 permanent jobs this center will create, it will have the capacity to treat approximately 2,000 patients annually."
"The Maryland Proton Treatment Center will further enhance Baltimore's reputation as the epicenter of medical research and innovation in America, and support growth of our Westside," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "We believe this project will uplift the people of Baltimore and of the Westside in many ways. We look forward to continuing our work with the University and finding new ways to help Baltimore and its people to grow and flourish."
"The University of Maryland BioPark was founded to facilitate partnerships between our academic resources and private corporations," says University of Maryland President Jay A. Perman, MD."This proton treatment center, the newest building, doubles the capital investment in the BioPark to more than $400 million in just six years. It increases to 800 the number of jobs in the BioPark among private companies, research centers of excellence, and clinical treatment facilities. The Maryland Proton Treatment Center and, indeed, the entire BioPark would not have been possible without the cooperation of the city of Baltimore and the West Baltimore community in which our campus is located. We are so grateful for the hard work of our many partners, and delighted to be able to develop not just this revolutionary new treatment facility but also restaurants, shops, and more to this community and to the city. I believe this project holds the promise to save lives and to help revitalize this area of Baltimore through new jobs and businesses."
"This new facility will enhance the Greenebaum Cancer Center's mission of providing cutting-edge cancer research studies to patients throughout Maryland," says Kevin J. Cullen, MD, Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Distinguished Professor and director of the Greenebaum Cancer Center.
Advanced Particle Therapy is also developing a center in California, teaming with Scripps Health and Scripps Clinic Medical Group in San Diego. The company also is developing a center in Atlanta, Ga., to be operated by Emory University/Healthcare. The Scripps Proton Therapy Center will begin treating patients in 2013. The Maryland Proton Treatment Center will use proton therapy equipment developed by Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto, Calif., the world leader in radiation oncology technology.
"We're honored to team with the University of Maryland School of Medicine's nationally recognized radiation oncology faculty to bring this proton therapy center to the Baltimore-Washington region," says Jeff Bordok, MIM, president and CEO of Advanced Particle Therapy.
There are currently 11 proton therapy treatment centers in the United States, with several more in development, and just five on the East Coast. The technology is used in more than 30 cancer centers worldwide. The closest proton therapy center to the Baltimore-Washington area opened in 2010 in Philadelphia.
"Location is critical to this facility's success, since proton therapy requires patients to be present for daily treatments for weeks at a time," said William E. Tucker, MBA, CPA, assistant dean for practice plan affairs at the School of Medicine and chief corporate officer of University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc., the faculty practice plan. "The center certainly will offer our patients a revolutionary approach to treatment in a convenient location close to I-95 and many amenities in downtown Baltimore."
The center is projected to generate approximately $50 million in construction costs and a proportionate number of temporary construction-related jobs, according to Advanced Particle Therapy. The permanent jobs the center will add to the local economy include radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation technologists, and other medical support personnel and administrative staff.
Proton therapy is an advanced technology approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and reimbursed by both Medicare and private insurance. The therapy has been used to treat nearly 70,000 patients worldwide since its inception in the 1950s, according to Advanced Particle Therapy. The technology for this therapy continues to evolve, which will allow for its expanded use in treating cancer patients worldwide. The non-invasive, outpatient therapy requires patients to receive about 30 treatments over a five-to-six-week period. Treatments last approximately 20-25 minutes each day for five to six days a week. After each appointment, patients are able to leave the center and resume normal activities.
The technology uses a proton beam to deliver radiation more precisely to the tumor site than with standard X-ray radiation. "Proton therapy is more controlled, more precise, and therefore has the potential to produce more effective outcomes for certain cancer types," says Regine, who is also president of University of Maryland Radiation Oncology Associates. "We send the proton beam directly to the tumor and instruct it to release its energy only when it reaches the tumor. We calibrate the proton radiation to the precise size and shape of the tumor, while minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue."
Proton beam therapy provides treatment for many common and some rare cancers. This treatment option dramatically reduces the radiation exposure to the areas of the body in the path of the radiation beam. Children are a prime example of this issue, as they are particularly at-risk for the traditional side effects commonly expected from conventional radiation.
"This technology is undergoing rapid evolution, and we're looking forward to exploring its full potential," adds Regine. "As leaders in radiation oncology, we expect to be a part of the national team of experts that will determine the future of this new therapy. This center affirms our position in that leadership role."