National Cancer Institute Designation

The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center is proud to be Kentucky’s first and only NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. By achieving Comprehensive Cancer Center status from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 2023, the Markey team is more equipped to tackle any challenge cancer gives us.

What is the National Cancer Institute?

The NCI is the federal government’s primary agency for cancer research and training. As part of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), it is the world’s leading funder of cancer research to improve cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and survivorship.

As an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center, Markey receives public grant funds from the NCI to study and implement cancer prevention strategies, clinical trials and research studies, and evidenced-based research that will help Kentuckians the most. 


Comprehensive Cancer Center status is the NCI’s highest designation. Today, there are 56 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States, and Markey is the only one within a 3-hour drive of Lexington.

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Markey NCI Comprehensive Status
MCC NCI Comprehensive Map

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Centers are recognized for their scientific leadership, resources, and depth and breadth of research in basic, clinical and prevention/population-based science. They must also demonstrate:

  • Substantial transdisciplinary research bridging those three areas.
  • Strength in cancer research and control programs that benefit the communities they serve.
  • Integration of programming to train and educate cancer researchers and clinicians. 

Comprehensive designation confers tangible benefits to Markey and the patients it serves, including:

  • More funding opportunities from the NCI for research, training and outreach.
  • A powerful recruiting tool for the most accomplished physicians and scientists, whose expertise will bolster Kentucky and its people.
  • More opportunities to collaborate with national and international partners on studies ranging from basic laboratory research to clinical assessments of new treatments.
  • More advanced clinical trials available to our patients — the latest and best medicine available as close to home as possible.
  • Improved patient outcomes from research-driven care.

How did Markey become a Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Markey was first named an NCI-Designated Cancer Center in 2013. Every five years, Markey undergoes a rigorous review by the NCI of our research programs and related activities. The NCI evaluates our community outreach and education efforts, and the impact they have on cancer prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship. 

During those reviews, the University of Kentucky (UK) and UK HealthCare also must demonstrate a sustained and deep commitment to cancer care and research. This includes support to the cancer center for state-of-the-art facilities, personnel, and a variety of research resources and equipment. Additionally, Markey’s new cancer building will help patients for decades to come.  

In 2023, Markey became Kentucky’s first Comprehensive Cancer Center, achieving the highest level of recognition awarded by the NCI and the gold standard for cancer centers.

How do patients benefit from Markey’s NCI designation?

No state in the country will benefit more from Markey becoming an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center than Kentucky. That’s because Kentucky leads the nation in overall cancer incidence and mortality rates. Kentucky has the highest incidence rates of lung, bronchus and cervical cancers and the second-highest rates of colon and rectal and oropharyngeal cancers. 

This prestigious designation ensures that we can accelerate cancer research to deliver tomorrow’s cancer care to Kentuckians across our state – in all 120 counties — sooner. It also means that patients will not have to leave Kentucky for access to advanced, precision cancer care and next-generation clinical trials.  

When treated at an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center, patients have increased access to leading-edge, early-phase clinical trials. This allows them to receive groundbreaking treatments not available elsewhere in the state or region.

Cancer centers with this distinction also attract the top physicians and researchers in the nation. This directly translates to the most advanced treatment plans for a patient.

Additionally, numerous studies show that patients treated at Comprehensive Cancer Centers have better survival and recovery rates.

Contact Us

For more information or to make an
appointment at Markey, call us at 866-340-4488.
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Announcement Video

For a recording of our Sept. 15, 2023 announcement,
click the button below.
Watch Announcement
NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.