For more than 100 years, Roswell Park was called an institute.
But, with an aim toward sounding less institutional and setting itself apart from other medical facilities, it is changing its name — to the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Along with the name change, there's a new logo featuring a dandelion design based on artwork in the new Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center and a new tagline: Unleashing the healing power of hope.
The logo design was inspired by the work of Buffalo artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant, who underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with a severe case of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1999 while living in Colorado.
She took her experience — with its mixture of fear, hope and frustration — into account, in her 2016 installation, called "Wish Field,” in the clinical sciences center’s lobby, an array of metal circles with metal tines meant to represent dandelion seeds children blow into the air while making secret wishes.
“There’s lots of windows, there’s lots of light, but there was nothing soft there,” Soudant said in an interview at that time with The Buffalo News. “I was thinking about soft and I was thinking about round, and all of a sudden I realized: What do you want when you come in here? What do you need? You’re wishing. You’re wishing for cancer to just not exist.”
Roswell's previous logo featured an image of the cancer center's main hospital building.
"The old logo served us well, but we wanted something that conveyed a sense of hopefulness," said Candace S. Johnson, Roswell's president and chief executive officer.
It's not unusual for hospitals and cancer centers to change their names.
And this is not the first name change for the Buffalo cancer center.
Often a name change occurs after a donation or when individual facilities merge into a larger entity. It also arises from marketing considerations about institutional identity and efforts to create a brand. Hospitals and cancer centers look for a name, logo or tagline that increases awareness, and attempts to capture a sense of their expertise and reputation.
In recent years, the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center rebranded itself as The James. New York City-based NYU Langone Medical Center and its affiliated clinics and outpatient locations now go by NYU Langone Health. The Kansas City Cancer Centers were renamed The University of Kansas Cancer Center, and the GRU Cancer Center became the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University.
Roswell Park is named after the noted physician who founded it in 1898, making it the first facility in the world devoted solely to cancer treatment and research.
Initially, it operated as part of the University at Buffalo, but became a separate state institute in 1911 known as the New York State Institute for the Study of Malignant Diseases.
The name was changed in 1946 — to Roswell Park Memorial Institute — to honor Park. It was changed again in 1992 to Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Roswell Park is one of 69 cancer centers in the United States that receive important grant funding and a designation from the National Cancer Institute. The facilities carry one of three designations, depending on the depth and breadth of their medical care, research and physician-training programs.
Roswell Park is a comprehensive cancer center, the highest designation and one which requires reviews every five years to maintain. There are other major providers of cancer care in Buffalo, including Kaleida Health. Part of the reason behind the name change is to help with Roswell Park's marketing as the only comprehensive cancer center upstate.
“The name change and logo are a way to refresh things," Johnson said.
"We thought the word 'institute' seemed cold and wanted to communicate something about our identity that was more open," she said. "These things do matter."