Moffitt’s Magnificent Obsession

One man’s mission. A lasting mark on cancer treatment and research.

A Tampa Tribune editorial called the cancer center the product of H. Lee Moffitt’s “steel persistence and cotton diplomacy” and went on to give what may be a newspaper’s highest compliment to a political leader:

“It’s true enough that the art of politics is compromise,” the editorial said, "but the point of compromise is to get things done. Lee Moffitt did.”

How — and why — he did are the heart of the cancer center’s origin.

in a special 30th Anniversary Momentum magazine profile of our founder, H. Lee Moffitt.

30 Years of Courage

Watch the history of Moffitt Cancer Center unfold through the eyes of those who’ve lived it: from founders, friends and patients to Moffitt team members on a mission to prevent and cure cancer.

A Community of Support

“One person can make a difference,” says founder H. Lee Moffitt.
Each person in this community of support has a story to tell about why this cancer center matters to them – and what makes it so special..

The History of Moffitt Cancer Center

Key milestones throughout its first 30 years of courage.

  • How it began
    June 1981

    H. Lee Moffitt secures funding.

    As incoming Speaker of the Florida House, Rep. H. Lee Moffitt champions $3.5 million toward design of a cancer center at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Legislation stipulates it will serve Florida. But its mission evolves — “To contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.”

    January 1983

    Ground is broken. History is made.

    On Jan. 24, 1983, over 100 people attend the groundbreaking ceremony on a dusty piece of land on the University of South Florida campus. At the center of it all is H. Lee Moffitt and seven children, ages 3 to 17, all USF cancer patients.

    1983 - 1986

    Attention to detail.

    As construction continued on the 17-acre site, H. Lee Moffitt walks the construction site with his father, a welder, every Sunday morning. “My dad would check every weld to make sure it was perfect. Those were very special times we spent together.”

  • First 30 Years
    October 1986

    Opening day. A new beginning.

    Moffitt Cancer Center opens on Oct. 27, 1986, as the first free-standing cancer treatment and research center authorized by the state of Florida and the only one in the nation funded by a cigarette tax. Its establishment, funding and architecture all break new ground.

    APRIL 2001

    Reaching the top at a rapid pace.

    In 2001, the National Cancer Institute bestows its highest honor — naming Moffitt as a Comprehensive Cancer Center just three years after the center earned NCI designation. Comprehensive status demonstrates Moffitt’s rich depth and breadth of scientific excellence.

    March 2015

    A nod to nursing excellence.

    Moffitt has long appreciated the excellence of its nurses. The American Nurses Credentialing Center confirms it by awarding its prestigious Magnet designation in recognition of Moffitt’s nursing professionalism, teamwork, quality patient care and innovation. Among America’s 5,500 health care institutions, only 7 percent achieve Magnet designation.

    APRIL 2016

    Development of new treatments.

    Moffitt’s wholly owned subsidiaries M2Gen® and ORIEN® launch the Avatar™ Research Program. It joins patients, physicians, researchers and pharmaceutical companies to speed development of new treatments. Avatar™ dramatically increases the number of patient profiles that companies can screen to identify eligible candidates for promising clinical trials nationwide.

    SEPTEMBER 2016

    Reaffirming national standing.

    Maintaining NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center status and core grant support is not guaranteed. Every five years, centers must undergo NCI site visits and present data on research accomplishments and goals. In 2016, Florida Gov. Rick Scott celebrates Moffitt’s NCI renewal for the next five years.

    2016 and beyond

    Growing to meet the needs.

    From 17 sandspur-choked acres with a 380,000-square-foot hospital and 409 employees, Moffitt has grown exponentially. Now 2.6 million square feet of facilities on 52 acres including two satellite locations, Moffitt counts 5,200+ team members committed to its mission. Plans to expand our research and clinical space are underway.

A Modest Investment

Major returns — and lives saved.

Initial state funds
still paying dividends.

A $45 million trust fund from state cigarette taxes helped build this cancer center on the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus. Today, Moffitt has a $2.1 billion economic impact in Florida. Its day-to-day operations support an additional 7,000 jobs throughout the state.

Over 5,200 heroes
on this team.

From a staff of 409 upon opening in 1986, Moffitt’s ranks have grown to more than 5,200 team members. Moffitt’s doctors, nurses, researchers and staff in myriad roles are all committed to the same mission — to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

Research breakthroughs
that impact patient lives.

Impressive numbers: 850+ Moffitt research faculty and staff, $50 million+ annually in research funding, and 300+ open clinical trials. Moffitt’s research impact is also counted in FDA-approved melanoma drugs. Of the 10, half are immunotherapy drugs — and Moffitt was key to their approval.

National recognition
as a top cancer center.

Number 1 in Florida and 6 in the nation — that’s where Moffitt ranked among the 2016 U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals” for cancer care. As for research, the National Cancer Institute reaffirmed Moffitt as one of 47 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in 2016 — and the only based in Florida.

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Moffitt Cancer Center Celebrates 30 Years - Human 30 Formation

Guess who’s turning 30? We want you to share your favorite memories of Moffitt. Why is the cancer center special to you? Tag others who have been touched by Moffitt over the years. #Moffitt30

Posted by Moffitt Cancer Center on Monday, October 17, 2016