If you listened to Gov. Scott Walker’s 2013-2015 budget address, you may be curious about a special provision in the budget called the Wisconsin Oncology Network of Imaging Excellence, or WONIX. We are delighted that the Governor included this important provision in the biennial budget exercise, and I am writing to explain a bit more about the initiative.
WONIX is the result of our effort to enhance the impact of the remarkable developments in imaging clinical care and research here at UW, and extend those developments to facilities elsewhere in Wisconsin. The concept was born from a presentation that I made in collaboration with Dr. George Wilding to the Friends of the Carbone Cancer Center. As you know, I am incredibly proud of the developments we are making in imaging, in collaboration with our colleagues in the Department of Medical Physics and at the UW.
Our proposal was to leverage some of these developments to enhance cancer care throughout the state by creating WONIX. Over the last two decades, the cancer center has developed an infrastructure of 17 sites across the state that participate in the Wisconsin Oncology Network, so that citizens of Wisconsin can gain access to the state-of-the-art clinical trials and treatments for cancer.
We proposed to develop WONIX so that citizens of Wisconsin can gain access to these imaging technologies, as well as infrastructure to improve and standardize imaging methods for assessing response to treatment in clinical care. We have great technologies and people, but the infrastructure required to bring these developments to patients is quite expensive. Therefore, we requested $7.5 million over the next two years to develop the WONIX infrastructure.
The Friends of the Carbone Cancer Center proposed the WONIX concept to the Governor, and requested that the $7.5 million be included in the next budget. The Governor is enthusiastic about the concept, and proposed that the state contribute $3.75 million if we can come up with $3.75 million in matching support in a public-private sector partnership. We are currently working on matching contributions. The funding will be provided to the UW Carbone Cancer Center to support our efforts to develop the WONIX infrastructure.
The next step is for the State Legislature to review and approve the budget, including our $3.75 million request. Please consider sending a message to your state representative in support of this proposal. While there are many worthy causes to consider in the budget, I believe you will share my enthusiasm for the importance of this cause, which will ultimately improve patient care and reduce suffering for Wisconsin citizen cancer patients. This is truly the “Wisconsin Idea” in action.