August 14, 2006
Cancer kills thousands of people in this area every year.
But MCG's new Cancer Center has a new director who hopes to change that...one life, and one cure, at a time.
Dr. Kapil Bhalla is the new head of MCG's Cancer Center. He's not just a director--he's also on the front lines in the fight against cancer.
Dr. Bhalla is calling the plays himself at the Medical College of Georgia's new Cancer Center.
"It's like recruiting for football," he says. "Do you need a wide receiver or a quarterback?"
He's just taken over as director, and has funding to recruit 25 to 30 basic scientists, physician scientists, and clinical scholars to help find breakthroughs in cancer treatment.
"Last night I woke up at 4 a.m. I can't go back to sleep. I've got 25-30 things to do during the day."
And busy he's likely to be. Dr. Bhalla's also working as both a researcher and physician himself, having studied both leukemia and breast cancer.
He's an example of what he hopes to bring to Augusta: more researchers who do it all, from bench to bedside, in looking for a cure for cancer.
"If we start doing that in human patients, they won't have to go to Sloan Kettering or MD Anderson or other cancer centers."
Georgia governor Sonny Perdue's office and lawmakers committed $5 million this year to cancer research at MCG, with another $5 million next year. Their hope is they'll have that renewed for another three years after that.
MCG is doing all kinds of cancer and immune disorders research at its new center, including studies on multiple sclerosis and lupus.