- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A doctor from London has been tapped to serve as the new director for a cancer institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, replacing the center’s founder and longtime leader, officials announced Tuesday.

Dr. Gareth Morgan, 57, will succeed Dr. Bart Barlogie starting in July as director for the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, a UAMS branch established in 1989 to research and offer clinical care of multiple myeloma.

“I have done this job for 25 years,” said the 69-year-old Barlogie, who still plans to carry on his multiple myeloma research. “I wanted to secure succession at a time when everything was going very well so I can be part of the transition to greater endeavors.”

Multiple myeloma is a form of bone marrow cancer, and more than 11,000 patients have sought treatment at the myeloma institute. Annually, about 450 new patients seek treatment at the institute, UAMS Chancellor Dr. Dan Rahn said. Of the 9,000 blood stem cell transplants conducted at the institute since it opened, Rahn said nearly 1,000 patients went into remission for at least 10 years from the bone marrow cancer.

“I think as we convene here today, the goal of achieving cure in multiple myeloma has been established,” Barlogie said. “And it’s happening in an ever-increasing fraction of patients. … We have patients who have been disease-free for more than 20, up to 25 years.”

After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma 10 years ago, people lived about two years on average, according to Morgan. Because that lifespan is likely to be extended for patients treated at the institute, Morgan said they can be thought of as being cured.

Gov. Mike Beebe also attended the announcement and said UAMS’ myeloma institute is a “gem and jewel” in Arkansas.

Morgan is a clinician and researcher in multiple myeloma at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and a member of the Scientific Board of International Myeloma Foundation.

“I am thrilled to be taking up this new post and very much look forward to the opportunities it presents,” Morgan said.

Rahn said that Morgan, who was interviewed nearly a year ago, was the “best fit” of the three candidates.

“He’s moving from London - that’s a big move,” Rahn said. “He has a very successful program there. … It took him many months to think it through and work through his thoughts professionally and personally.”

Rahn announced later in the packed auditorium that the cancer center has received about $20 million in state funding and philanthropic contributions, which is expected to help pay for new laboratory construction and research programs. Arkansas’ General Improvement Funds kicked in $5 million, which he said was matched by philanthropic contributions, the first of which was a $5 million gift from Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund at the recommendation of Carol Ammon, chairwoman of the Myeloma Institute Advisory Board.


Follow Christina Huynh on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ckhuynh.

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