The San Antonio Cancer Institute (SACI) was formally recognized in May of 1990 through a memorandum of understanding between the Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC) and the Institute, and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) and the Institute. Members were appointed to SACI from the CTRC research staff and the UTHSCSA faculty. Shortly after its inception in 1990, the Institute had 82 members who commanded approximately $12 million in grant and contract support for their cancer-related research.
The San Antonio Cancer Institute applied to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for its first Cancer Center Support Grant in June 1990. The Institute received its first NCI designation as a cancer center and core grant funding in July 1991. In May 1995, a separate application was submitted for the distinguished NCI designation of "Comprehensive Cancer Center." This designation requires demonstration of compliance with criteria above and beyond those required to attain a Cancer Center Support Grant. These criteria included high levels of participation in and interactions between basic, clinical and population-based research, as well as translational research, and community outreach and education activities. The application was approved by the NCI in March 1996, and renewed in 1998. The Comprehensive Cancer Center designation is the highest level of recognition in the NCI's Cancer Centers Program. The San Antonio Cancer Institute shares this designation with 36 other centers in the United States, and it is one of only two such centers in the State of Texas.
The NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation is an invaluable asset to the community, in that it demonstrates: 1) an outstanding array of peer-reviewed cancer research activities; 2) a firm commitment to the rapid translation of research results into patient treatment, education and cancer prevention efforts; and 3) access to resources, such as supplemental funding support and new anticancer agents, that are not available to cancer centers lacking designation from the NCI.
Since its inception just over ten years ago, the San Antonio Cancer Institute has developed and expanded its cancer research activities substantially. The Institute now includes the activities of more than 190 members, or more than double the membership size at the time of the initial core grant application. Even more indicative of the Institute's growth is the fact that, at the time of this publication, cancer center members were supported by more than $45.2 million annually in cancer-related, peer-reviewed grants and contracts, or more than triple the amount reported in 1990.
The San Antonio Cancer Institute has continued to develop organizationally as well as through its scientific programs. An affiliation agreement between the two institutions, initially developed in 1974, was revised and expanded in 1993. That agreement, which covers all aspects of the relationship between the two parties, including research, education, and clinical services, was signed in June of 1993 by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System and the Board of Governors of the CTRC. The affiliation agreement provides for the development of additional correlative agreements, termed "program agreements," governing specific activities conducted jointly by the two institutions. A program agreement for the further development and continued operation of the San Antonio Cancer Institute was signed on September 24, 1993, and was last ratified in October 1996.
One of the more recent additions to the organizational structure of the San Antonio Cancer Institute is the Office of Cancer Survivorship (OCS). The OCS membership includes cancer patients, survivors and caregivers who voluntarily participate in the cancer center’s governing bodies, project and protocol review committees, program retreats, and other cancer center activities. These individuals bring their unique perspectives to cancer center activities, promote the integration of important cancer survivorship issues in the SACI research agenda, and serve as advocates of survivorship issues and the benefits of cancer research in the local communities.