Moffitt gets new tower to bolster research efforts

Cancer research and treatment has led to an expansion of clinics and facilities to house major studies in the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center at USF. The $186-million research tower named for former medical engineer and philanthropist Vincent A. Stabile is nearly complete as furniture, equipment, patients, researchers, doctors, nurses and staff make a move to the facility.

The clinic tower includes technological advances like a CAT scan that can process images in 15 minutes or less rather than waiting nearly an hour with old machines.

Stabile donated $15 million for the tower last June, the largest private donation ever made to Moffitt.

The new tower will sit adjacent to Moffitt’s existing research tower.

“Imagine how much easier it is for the patients when they are in and out of here instead of having to wait 45 minutes for a CAT scan,” said Dean Head, director of the project.

During a tour of the center Friday, Angela Hatton, clinic operations manager, showed media and employees how patient care was the focus of the clinic design. An infusion center on the fourth level of the tower will be equipped with flat screen televisions, computers and possibly Internet connections to make the patient’s stay in the clinic more comfortable, she said.

The improved CAT scan and media devices are not the only upgrades in the new clinic tower. The walls surrounding the buildings are made of hurricane proof glass, Head said.

“The Moffitt towers were the first buildings subject to the hurricane codes, so the glass used to build the walls was tested and is able to stand up against 150 mph winds,” Head said.

The 600-space parking garage supports the clinic and the research towers, Head added.

The new tower has the same aesthetic look as the clinic, but the architectural focus of the buildings is the large atrium above the central hallway, Head said.

Head added that the research towers are equipped with the “state-of-the-art” audio and video equipment used throughout the conference centers and a large theater to provide easy communication.

“The research tower was designed to help researchers to communicate and share information and ideas,” Head said. “The open design labs remove the walls to allow communication between different researchers.”

Christine O’Connell, director of research lab operations, said even with the addition of the new tower, the old research building will still be used.

“A bridge will be built within a year to connect the new research tower with the old research building,” O’Connell said.