Cancer Research Director & Leadership

Message From the Director

Welcome to Stephenson Cancer Center!Mannel Robert

Our mission is to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden of cancer in Oklahoma and the nation. One in two men and one in three women in Oklahoma will develop cancer, and our state has the nation’s 7th worst cancer mortality rate. Of the 3.9 million Oklahomans alive today, 1.5 million will hear the words “you have cancer.” And, though we’ve made important advances through research, prevention and screening efforts, one in three patients will still ultimately succumb to their disease.

How do we combat this deadly foe? Fortunately, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has developed a blueprint – one that integrates cutting-edge research, outstanding care, community engagement and education. This is the NCI-Designated Cancer Centers program. These 71 Centers represent the top 2% of cancer centers in the United States and are the nation’s elite for cancer treatment and research. Stephenson Cancer Center is honored to be a member of this prestigious group.

Our journey to NCI Designation began in 2001 when the State approved legislation directing the University of Oklahoma to establish a cancer center to provide statewide leadership in research, treatment, education and community outreach, and to achieve NCI Designation as a benchmark of success. Numerous partners have supported Stephenson along the way, including the State Legislature, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), OU Health, the University Hospitals Authority and Trust, Oklahoma’s Tribal Nations, and the state’s philanthropic community and citizens. We are very grateful to all of our stakeholders for making Stephenson Cancer Center the largest public-private biomedical partnership in state history.

In 2011, we provided care for one in 20 new cancer patients in Oklahoma. In 2018, it was one in six. These patients come from across Oklahoma, the region, and the nation for the most advanced cancer treatment options. More than 20% of our patients participate in clinical trials to access promising new therapies. We currently have over 250 active clinical trials and annually rank among the top cancer centers in the nation for the number of patients participating in trials available through the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network.

Stephenson Cancer Center also serves as a major source of biomedical discovery into the nature of cancer and for the development of new and more effective treatments. Our 130 member investigators are currently working on more than 250 cancer research projects, supported by $50 million of annual research funding from the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society and others. This team has published more than 750 scientific articles over the past three years, advancing science and influencing how patients are treated in Oklahoma and around the world.

Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, a researcher, health professional, advocate or other, I invite you to learn more about Stephenson Cancer Center.


Robert S. Mannel, MD
Rainbolt Family Endowed Chair in Cancer
Director, Stephenson Cancer Center
Associate Vice Provost for Cancer Programs
The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

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