Newswise — A research partnership formed just last year by Memorial Healthcare System and Florida Atlantic University is already being recognized for quality care, results, and advances in research, and that’s great news for patients fighting cancer in South Florida. The alliance between Memorial’s Cancer Institute and FAU (MCIFAU) has been recognized by the state’s Department of Health as a “Florida Cancer Center of Excellence.”  

It becomes just the fifth in the state, out of more than 80 competitors, to earn the designation. The honor recognized the role of research, survivorship, and a multi-disciplinary approach that led to excellence in patient-centered care for persons undergoing cancer treatment and therapy in Florida.

MCIFAU was formed in 2020 to combine the expertise of physicians and researchers under Memorial Cancer Institute, the Office of Human Research at Memorial Healthcare System and FAU’s clinicians and researchers to bring clinical trials that will lead to advances in patient care and treatments for a variety of diseases, including melanoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and blood cancers. On the to-do list are the development of new drugs, medical devices, software applications, and other novel treatments for diseases that affect both children and adults. Memorial Cancer Institute is one of the largest cancer centers in Florida, treating more than 4,300 new cancer patients a year.

“We’re honored to have been named a Cancer Center of Excellence along with our partners at FAU, but the real winners are those who now have access to clinical trials and the combined expertise of our two organizations,” said Aurelio M. Fernandez, III, president and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System. “Innovations that are coming from this alliance are life-changers for patients battling these terrible diseases.” 

In addition to excellence in clinical research, the state recognition referenced MCIFAU exceeding service standards and excelling in providing quality, comprehensive and patient-coordinated care.

“We are extremely proud of our designation as a Florida Cancer Center of Excellence by the Florida Department of Health and we greatly appreciate this recognition from Gov. Ron DeSantis,” said FAU President John Kelly. “By combining the vast knowledge, expertise and resources of both of our organizations, the Memorial Cancer Institute/Florida Atlantic University alliance will help to accelerate lifesaving cancer research, clinical trials, patient care, and education in Florida and beyond.”

The Center of Excellence designation was created by the Florida Legislature in 2013 to encourage preeminence in cancer care, to attract and retain the best cancer care providers, and help Florida hospitals, treatment centers, and other providers be recognized nationally as a preferred destination for quality cancer care.

Luis Raez, M.D., medical director and chief scientific officer, Memorial Cancer Institute, and Gregg Fields, Ph.D., executive director, FAU’s Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-Health), served as co-principal investigators on the application submitted to the Florida Department of Health.

MCIFAU joins the University of Florida Health Cancer Center, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Mayo Clinic Florida, and the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center as Florida Cancer Centers of Excellence.

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About Florida Atlantic University: Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students across six campuses located along the southeast Florida coast. In recent years, the University has doubled its research expenditures and outpaced its peers in student achievement rates. Through the coexistence of access and excellence, FAU embodies an innovative model where traditional achievement gaps vanish. FAU is designated a Hispanic-serving institution, ranked as a top public university by U.S. News & World Report and a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit


About Memorial Cancer Institute:

One of the ways Memorial Healthcare System distinguishes itself as a regional medical provider is by offering South Florida residents leading-edge care for breast, lung and other cancers in their own backyard. In both treatment and research, Memorial Cancer Institute gives patients and families access to resources that they used to have to travel to other parts of the country to obtain. And Memorial Cancer Institute continues to grow – adding new resources, attracting new expertise, and earning new designations of excellence, all of which increase its ability to help patients be stronger against cancer. For more information, visit