Top 12 Stories of 2023

By Sara Bondell - December 15, 2023

What will you remember most about 2023?

From war in the Middle East to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic to Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour, this year will be hard to forget.

Before we turn the calendar to 2024, let’s look back at Moffitt’s biggest stories of 2023.

Moffitt expands its footprint. Moffitt McKinley Hospital opened in July. The state-of-the-art surgical hospital is equipped with 19 operating rooms, an intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging system and smart patient rooms. Next up? The development of SPEROS FL in Pasco County and Moffitt at SouthShore in Ruskin.

Moffitt broke ground on the 775-acre Speros FL campus in January 2023. From left: Timothy Adams, chair of Moffitt’s Institute Board; U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis; Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture; U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee; Patrick Hwu, M.D., Moffitt’s president and CEO; and founder H. Lee Moffitt make it official.
Moffitt broke ground on the 775-acre Speros FL campus in January 2023. From left: Timothy Adams, chair of Moffitt’s Institute Board; U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis; Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture; U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee; Patrick Hwu, M.D., Moffitt’s president and CEO; and founder H. Lee Moffitt make it official.

Moffitt’s PEARL opens. The Population Engagement and Research Laboratory (PEARL) opened in April and is working to develop personalized prevention, screening and treatment based on a person’s unique biological and behavioral characteristics. The space includes a research kitchen for diet studies, gym and rooms with ventilation systems for smoking studies.

Bioengineering comes to Moffitt. The Department of Bioengineering, which opened in April, is a first for a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. It puts the tools and perspectives of engineers to work on the problems of cancer, utilizing technology like 3D printing. Learn more about the program’s leader, Greg Sawyer, Ph.D., and his journey from cancer patient to cancer engineer.

Miles for Moffitt sets record-breaking numbers. The 18th annual event raised more than $1.6 million, surpassing its goal. More than 9,500 people ran or walked in downtown Tampa or participated virtually.

In addition to being the presenting sponsor, AutoNation also went the extra mile this year and raised $260,000.
In addition to being the presenting sponsor, AutoNation also went the extra mile this year and raised $260,000.

FDA approves new ocular melanoma treatment. Thanks to a Moffitt-led trial, the HEPZATO kit was approved in August to treat ocular melanoma that has spread to the liver. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, the kit allows for high dose chemotherapy to be delivered directly to the liver.

Arts in Medicine opened its first studio in 1998.
Arts in Medicine opened its first studio in 1998.

Arts in Medicine celebrates 25 years. What started as a single art cart in 1998 is now a thriving program that spans three Moffitt locations and offers art as a form of expression to promote healing and self-discovery. The program includes seven artists-in-residence sharing both visual art and music.

Lung screening is hitting the road. Moffitt has secured funding for Florida’s first mobile lung screening unit. The bus will help reach more diverse communities and could provide up to 30 screenings in a single day. It should be ready to hit the road in the fall of 2024.

Telehealth continues to grow. Thanks to the pandemic, the number of virtual visits increased 5,000%. A Moffitt survey shows telemedicine patients expressed more satisfaction when compared to in person visits. Another study shows virtual visits saved almost 4 million total travel miles with an estimated cost savings per visit of $147.40 to $186.10.

Screening sails into Port Tampa Bay. Moffitt Cancer Center at Port Tampa Bay opened in July and will house several initiatives planned for easy access to Moffitt scheduling, on-site mobile screening, cancer education programs and digital engagement. The new community space was made a reality thanks to a partnership between Moffitt, Port Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Officials from Moffitt Cancer Center, Port Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and state of Florida gather for the grand opening of Moffitt Cancer Center at Port Tampa Bay.
Officials from Moffitt Cancer Center, Port Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the state of Florida gather for the grand opening of Moffitt Cancer Center at Port Tampa Bay.

Moffitt teams up with YMCA of the Suncoast. The YMCA Survivorship & Wellness Program Powered by Moffitt provides two sessions a week that are facilitated by YMCA-certified instructors who focus on improving cardiovascular conditioning, strength, balance and flexibility. Survivors and those in active treatment can enroll in the 12-week program at any of the seven YMCA Suncoast locations in Pasco, Pinellas, Hernando and Citrus counties.

Specialty Pharmacy earns special recognition. This year, the Specialty Pharmacy achieved the Accreditation Commission for Health Care Distinction in Oncology Status. The pharmacy is one of only 138 nationwide that have the accreditation. Having the accreditation opens doors to more third-party insurance contracts, which gives the pharmacy the ability to serve more patients and help them find ways to cover the cost of medications.

CancerX partnership tackles disparities. The public-private partnership between Moffitt and the Digital Medicine Society is helping to accelerate the pace of cancer innovation in the U.S. CancerX focuses on using digital innovation to reduce disparities and financial toxicity in cancer care and research. It launched in March and is part of the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative that aims to cut the death rate from cancer in half over the next 25 years.

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