After taking in no state funding the past two years, University of Wisconsin’s cancer center will receive nearly $4 million through 2015, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal.

Walker officially announced the proposal to invest $3.75 million to develop the Wisconsin Oncology Network of Imaging Excellence Thursday in Green Bay, Marshfield and La Crosse. The program will cultivate innovative cancer imaging technology research, he said.

“[The investment’s goal is] to expand the technology that’s already available and expand the cutting edge research that’s going to help us find more cures and more ways of providing great cancer care,” Walker said in Green Bay.

The increased funding to UW’s cancer center enhances access to diagnostics and treatment in rural areas in hopes the state and private sector will guarantee Wisconsin remains on the cutting edge of health care systems, the governor said in a statement.

UW’s Carbone Cancer Center Director George Wilding said if the proposal is passed, the center will use the investment for medical physics research to develop a new imaging agent. He added this research is intended to expedite the amount of time it takes to evaluate cancer treatment efficiency.

“It will allow us to diagnose cancer more accurately and determine whether treatments we’re giving to patients are working earlier than we normally would be able to tell,” Wilding said.

Wilding said evaluating cancer treatments usually takes a couple months, but with this new technology, he is hoping it will allow UWCCC staff to know whether treatment is working within days, or one to two weeks.

If UWCCC is successful in developing, testing and tracing cancer treatment efficiency with its new imaging technology, he added the center will move these devices to some of its 20 private medical centers around the state. Walker said the state’s funding to UWCCC will occur in collaboration with private investments. The center must find $3.75 million in support from philanthropists, grants and foundations to obtain Walker’s proposed investments.

Wilding said he was “excited” to receive this funding from the state because medical research is currently struggling to find funding. He noted the chances of receiving grant funding from the National Cancer Institute are down to about 7 or 8 percent now.

“This kind of funding is tremendous to be able to do the kind of work that we think will benefit cancer patients,” Wilding said. 

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