Leaders of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at Buffalo announced Monday that a merger of the institutions is off the table in talks over greater collaboration between the cancer center and the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Roswell Park has been seeking ways to care for more patients and become more efficient in light of the Cuomo administration’s 2012 proposal to make the cancer center “operationally independent.”
That proposal, which would have ended Roswell Park’s state subsidy of more than $100 million a year, has since been abandoned.
However, since March of last year there has been a behind-the-scenes effort led by Buffalo’s John R. Oishei Foundation to seek ways to improve Roswell Park’s business model, including possibly strengthening its ties with UB.
Oishei hired Cindrich Consulting of Pittsburgh to manage the study. The foundation is primarily paying the study’s cost, which is expected to run between $50,000 and $100,000.
A meeting Monday that included officials from UB, Roswell Park, the consultant and New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav R. Shah ended with the parties announcing that after a half day of discussions, it was clear that a merger was “neither necessary or desirable.”
“UB and RPCI have been longtime academic partners in educational, research and clinical activities and it was agreed that these collaborations as independent partners should continue and be expanded,” the officials said in a joint statement.
Officials have talked about such potential opportunities for greater efficiency as combining medical libraries and managing grants. UB and Roswell Park already have long-standing links in the training of new cancer specialists and cancer-related researchers, and the consultant may recommend ways to enhance those existing relationships, officials have said.
In their joint statement, UB and Roswell Park also expressed interest in enlarging the talks on collaboration in education, research and medical care to include other academic and health care institutions in the region.
“All parties strongly endorsed a shared vision to transform the Buffalo region into a nationally and internationally recognized destination of health care excellence that will attract students, researchers and people from all over the world who seek high quality affordable and innovative treatment,” they said.
The officials involved declined to elaborate beyond the written statement.
In the statement, UB and Roswell Park officials said their next step would involve inviting all of their health care partners in the region in planning for potential collaboration.
The consulting firm is headed by Robert J. Cindrich, which he started in 2010 after serving as senior advisor to the president, senior vice president and chief legal officer of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Before joining the University of Pittsburgh, Cindrich served as a judge in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1994 to 2004.
Officials in the medical community told The Buffalo News earlier this year that a merger seemed impractical because, for starters, it could not replace lost revenue from the state. Without stable funding, advocates for Roswell Park fear that the institute could lose its standing as one of the nation’s 41 federally designated comprehensive cancer centers.
The examination of how Roswell Park should move forward comes as the cancer center is awaiting word from the National Cancer Institute on renewal of its core grant of $24 million over five years and the federal designation, which brings other grants and status important for recruiting doctors and researchers.