Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday said he knows nothing about a possible merger between Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at Buffalo.
Asked about the notion at an Editorial Board meeting at The Buffalo News, Cuomo said, “What we have talked about are creative alternatives.”
Officials in Albany last year threatened to eliminate the state’s annual subsidy of about $103 million to Roswell Park, sending signals that the cancer center needed to reduce its reliance on public money. “The $100 million subsidy will be very hard to continue as the state budget is trimmed, so Ros-well needed a financial alternative,” Cuomo said.
A consultant hired to develop a self-sufficiency model for the cancer center encouraged Roswell Park to enhance its relationship with UB.
Roswell Park, UB and the John R. Oishei Foundation have jointly hired another consultant to examine collaboration to benefit both institutions, a cancer center official said.
Officials in the medical community earlier this year told The News that a merger seemed impractical because, for starters, it could not replace lost revenue from the state. More recently, Anthony H. Gioia seemed to quash the merger idea in an interview with The News about the work of Rep. Brian Higgins.
“There was talk a while back about some type of merger for Roswell,” said Gioia, a key Republican fundraiser in the region and former ambassador to Malta. “I talked with Brian about it. He was informed and an advocate for keeping it independent. It’s been a critical catalyst for the Medical Campus and by far the best thing we have going for us.”
“We’ll be receiving a formal report shortly, but early on, it became clear to all parties that a merger of RPCI and the university was neither necessary nor desirable. The idea of a collaboration between the two of us is nothing new. Our long-standing partnership in education is but one example,” Dr. Donald L. Trump, president and CEO of the cancer center, said in a statement.
Since 1955, Roswell Park has led graduate programs as a division of the UB School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.