Thursday, November 29, 2007

Touro Facility Will Employ Particle Beam

Touro Facility Will Employ Particle Beam
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 11/29/2007 08:29:40 AM PST

DR. KLAUS PLATE, right, speaks with Sandy Person of Solano Economic Corp. and Gil Hollingsworth, manager of the Mare Island conversion program, at Wednesday's conference on the new particle beam cancer treatment center planned at the Touro University campus on Mare Island. (Stacey J. Miller/Times-Herald)

Touro University's cutting-edge $231 million cancer treatment center on Mare Island will get a helping hand from a German medical school building a similar center.

Among a 50-plus crowd gathered Wednesday at Farragut Inn to support Touro's combined particle beam therapy center was Dr. Klaus Plate, chief executive officer of the Technology Park in Heidelberg, Germany.

A personal assistant to the Lord Mayor of Heidelberg was also present. Both said they will help Touro bring the Vallejo project to fruition. A similar cancer treatment center is slated to open in Germany in 2012.

"This is one of the more unique cancer therapies offered. We are happy Touro has decided to join us in the mission to save lives. We are looking forward to
working together," Plate said.

Touro has teamed up with Siemens Medical Solutions to build one of the country's first cancer treatment centers using combined particle beam therapy, including proton beam and heavy carbon ions.

The $231 million center will be part of Touro's ambitious $1.2 billion development plans for a 191-acre parcel on the island's north end. The university has an exclusive right to negotiate with the city on a development agreement for the area.

Construction on the 125,000-square-foot project, slated for a parcel at G Street and Azuar Drive, could start this winter and be completed by early 2011. Work on the Heidelberg combined particle beam therapy center will begin this spring; it is to open in 2012.

Slightly larger than the Heidelberg center, the Touro facility will be able to treat about 2,000 people per year, said Siemens Vice President Dennis Falkenstein.

The treatment facility will be accompanied by a clinical center or hospital.

On the north end, Touro also intends to build a cultural center, hotel, retail areas, classrooms and student housing.

Wednesday's gathering drew city department heads plus representatives of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce, Vallejo Convention and Visitors Bureau, Solano Economic Development Corp., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Kaiser Medical Center and Sutter Solano Medical Center, among others.

Touro Vice President Richard Hassel said the event helped forge important partnerships. "The goal is to start relationships and for our community leaders, city staff and elected officials to get a better understanding of the project, and the impact of the project on the overall economy of the city," Hassel said.

Bruce Lang, West Coast land resources business practice manager for ARCADIS, the project's development manager, told the audience the cancer treatment center is expected to generate 3,000 jobs and generate $145 million for the regional economy.

Meanwhile, Plate said the Heidelberg medical center, where the particle beam treatment center is slated, generates more than 14,000 jobs and a regional economic impact of about $3 billion euros which equals $4.4 billion.

But Lang said profits are not the main objective. "Touro is not looking at huge amounts of profits, but looking at something to save lives," he said.

On particle beam therapy, the Federal Drug Administration is allowing Siemens to conduct planning and secure financing prior to getting clearance, Falkenstein said.

Touro University opened in 1998, and is educating more than 1,400 students at colleges of osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, health sciences and education.

THOSE ATTENDING Wednesday's conference on the particle beam cancer treament equiment planned for Touro University's Mare Island facility saw this example of CT particle beam technology. (Stacey J. Miller/Times-Herald)

Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

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