NEW BRUNSWICK — The construction phase is underway on what will end up being New Jersey's first freestanding hospital devoted solely to cancer.

Leaders associated with the project on Somerset Street say that upon its completion, a number of cancer patients in New Jersey will no longer have to travel out of state for comprehensive care under one roof.

"We expect to open or cut a ribbon on the new cancer center in the second or third quarter of 2024," said Dr. Steven Libutti, senior vice president of oncology services for RWJBarnabas Health and director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

RCINJ and RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with New Brunswick Development Corporation, broke ground Thursday on the $750 million 12-story facility.

"Inpatient care, outpatient care, surgical services, radiation oncology, medical oncology, chemotherapy infusion, immunotherapy, imaging — cancer patients in New Jersey, if they want to take advantage of that level of cancer care and cancer capability, right now they're forced to travel out of state, often to New York or Pennsylvania," Libutti said.

At the same time, the 510,000-square-foot structure will host state-of-the-art laboratories where research faculty can provide hands-on educational opportunities for students at the undergraduate and graduate college levels, and high school students. The facility will also have the capacity to offer wellness and education resources all in one location, including offerings catered specifically to the needs of cancer survivors, RWJBarnabas said.

The structure will be named the Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center in recognition of philanthropic efforts led by Jack Morris, a longtime supporter in the city, and his wife, Sheryl.

“There is nothing that feels better or more gratifying than helping others in need,” Jack Morris said. “It has been our vision, our hope and our dream to have the top cancer center in the nation right here in New Brunswick. Sheryl and I are so proud that we can play a role in helping to make this dream a reality.”

The ground-breaking event was attended by the mayor, legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Murphy.

“RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers are widely recognized as leaders in health care and life-sciences, and the addition of the Cancer Center represents a significant step forward in New Jersey’s fight against cancer,” Murphy said. “Through the development of this new cancer pavilion, these world-class entities will continue to be at the forefront of research, innovation, and cancer care, serving as a leader for our state and nation."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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