UCF’s Cancer Center in Lake Nona begins taking shape as Florida Cancer Specialists finds new home

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The start of potentially groundbreaking cancer research in Central Florida is underway.

The first of four partners at the University of Central Florida’s Cancer Center in Orlando’s medical city is now up and running.

Once the entire complex is complete, patients will get access to first stage human drug trials in Lake Nona.

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The center will likely be finished later this year. Construction is ongoing on the other phases opening later this year, but Florida’s Cancer Specialist’s newest location is now in place, and they’ll be treating the patients who may want, or even need, a shot at experimental treatments.

UCF will use half the building for its College of Medicine cancer researchers. The other half will be used by four companies including Florida Cancer Specialists.

Doctors, patients and scientists will be under one room as experts develop new treatments.

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“In the past, patients would have to travel at least an hour drive, or maybe flight for two to three hours to New York, Boston, Houston,” said Michel Velez, oncologist at Florida Cancer Specialists.

The facility used to be the Sanford Burnham Prebys Research Facility. That company left the state in a cloud of controversy after receiving $77 million in job creation incentives and didn’t pay back a dime.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.