Roy Barnes knew an opportunity when he saw one. In the late 1990s, Barnes, then governor of Georgia, was approached by Hamilton Jordan, a cancer survivor and former White House Chief of Staff for President Jimmy Carter, and Michael Johns, then head of Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center, about how to ramp up Georgia's efforts in cancer research, prevention, and treatment.
At the time, major tobacco companies were settling civil litigation with states over smoking-related diseases and healthcare costs. Barnes wanted to ensure that some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Georgia would receive would go toward a cancer initiative with positive health and economic outcomes for the state. By all accounts, Barnes was rankled by the fact that many Georgians at the time drove to Alabama for cancer care. States surrounding Georgia had National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers. Why not Georgia?
In 2001, the Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC) was launched with a business plan that called for $400 million in tobacco settlement funds over 10 years.
The GCC pulled together healthcare providers and researchers, recruited experienced scientists to the state, and coordinated a boon of cancer research and investment across Georgia--including at Winship.
Photo credit: Emory University. Thumbnail photo credit: Roy E. Barnes Papers, Courtesy of Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries.