Thursday, July 05, 2007

Touro's Radical Cancer Center

Touro's Radical Cancer Center
Vallejo University Announces Plans For New Disease Treatment
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

First ships. Now particle beams.

Touro University's plans for Mare Island will involve a coup in the medical arena - a combined particle therapy center representing the latest technology in cancer treatment and research.

Touro says such a center will likely be the first of its kind in the United States. It will be a major part of the school's ambitious $1.2 billion plans for a 191-acre parcel on Mare Island's north end.

"This is great news for Vallejo," said Touro Vice President Richard Hassell. "This puts us on the international map."

Mare Island became synonymous with Vallejo as the Navy churned out 512 ships and repaired hundreds more. Touro University was one of the first to move in after the Navy closed the base in 1996.

In its ambitious expansion plans, Touro has teamed up with international medical giant Siemens Medical Solutions to develop the particle beam center. The university operates four medical colleges within its current 44-acre campus on the island's south end.

Particle beam therapy is a form of radiation therapy, and is still a relatively unknown part of the medical frontier. "This technology is still in its infancy and its boundaries are not known," Hassell added.

In the battle against cancer, combined particle therapy is available only in Japan and Germany, according to a Touro announcement. The Touro facility will receive and benefit from the latest technologies as they become available, Hassell said.

Touro and Siemens have signed a contract to develop the project, and are in the midst of ironing out final design details, officials said. Touro will use integrated software systems and Siemens equipment and technologies.

The 125,000-square-foot center is slated for a parcel at G Street and Azuar Drive. Touro development manager Bruce Lang said construction could start by the end of the year, with the center completed in 2010.

Within the north end, Touro also intends to build a large cultural center, hotel, retail areas, classrooms and student housing. The center will be a key part of a bio tech center, Hassell said.

Earlier this year, the City Council agreed to negotiate exclusively with Touro to develop the north end. The city could recommend completion of a development agreement if Touro meets several deadlines before the agreement expires in 90 days.

Dennis Falkenstein, Siemens Medical Solutions vice president of particle therapy solutions, was quoted in the Touro announcement saying that particle therapy is subject to final FDA clearance upon completion.

"Siemens has made a major investment in particle therapy research and development and looks forward to working on this project in the Bay area," he said.

The north end parcel is bordered by Azuar Drive, the Mare Island Strait, G Street and Highway 37.

Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

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