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A Message from President Harroz – Celebrating NCI Renewal at Stephenson Cancer Center

University Seal, The University of Oklahoma, Office of the President
May 5, 2023

Dear OU Community,

Today, the University of Oklahoma and our health care partner OU Health are celebrating a significant milestone: OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center at OU Health Sciences has achieved renewal of its status as a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center. This accomplishment recognizes the cancer center’s continued growth as a statewide cancer network that provides leadership in patient care, research, education, and community outreach. Patients who are treated at an NCI-designated cancer center have improved long-term survival rates and better quality of life, and renewal of this distinction will undoubtedly save countless lives and enhance care for the people of Oklahoma.

NCI designation is the highest federal rating a cancer center can achieve. It is universally viewed as the gold standard of cancer care and research, with only 2% of cancer centers nationwide earning this prestigious accreditation. We are tremendously proud that Stephenson Cancer Center is Oklahoma’s only NCI-designated center. This distinction is only awarded to the most elite institutions that meet rigorous standards and have a proven ability to translate scientific discoveries that are revolutionizing how we diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer. Achieving NCI renewal underscores our commitment as a research-intense university to channel OU research toward promising outcomes that will literally change lives.

The journey to NCI designation began over two decades ago when OU set an ambitious goal of achieving the nation’s highest accreditation for cancer research. Many years of effort, including the dedication and hard work of countless people, led to the successful achievement of NCI designation for the first time in 2018. It is important to recognize that this is not an accolade that is simply handed out and forgotten. Every five years, NCI-designated institutions must undergo a rigorous evaluation process to attain renewal of that status, and today we honor the cancer center’s extraordinary efforts once again.

This renewal is only the beginning. In Oklahoma, where one in two men and one in three women receive a cancer diagnosis during their lifetimes, we must stay relentlessly focused on bringing OU-led research discoveries directly to the patient’s bedside. This is precisely what academic health care should deliver – where research discoveries made right on OU’s campuses can immediately translate to leading-edge, compassionate care. With NCI renewal, we only see that commitment intensifying. Making NCI-level care accessible to all Oklahomans is a top priority for Stephenson Cancer Center. A new partnership announced in January between OU Health and Norman Regional has extended Stephenson Cancer Center’s services to Norman and the surrounding communities, and we fully expect to continue expanding its scope and reach beyond central Oklahoma.

Please join me in recognizing this tremendous accomplishment and in honoring our colleagues and friends who fulfill our purpose of changing lives in the most revered way possible.


Live On, University,

Joseph Harroz, Jr.