Law Firm’s Pledge to Help Cancer Patients Comes to Life as Simmons Cancer Institute Opens Doors

SIU cancer center backed by $10 million from St. Louis area law firm opens Thursday

The Simmons Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine will begin seeing patients this Thursday in its new building, a state-of-the art treatment and research facility located on campus. Dedicated in June 2008, the Simmons law firm funded the institute with a $10.2 million donation, comprised of annual gifts and a multi-year pledge, to support on-going cancer research.

“The Simmons Cancer Institute’s new building has been a vision 10 years in the making,” said John Simmons, founding shareholder of the St. Louis area law firm. “As a firm who works with patients and families affected by asbestos-related cancers like mesothelioma on a daily basis, we couldn’t be any prouder to see this facility open.”

The Simmons Cancer Institute’s physician specialists have approximately 1,750 patient visits each month. This move will place nearly all of the school’s cancer care professionals, research facilities and support programs under one roof, allowing patients unprecedented access to cutting-edge research and medical options in one, central location.

At the facility, patients have access to a chemotherapy infusion center, nearly three dozen exam rooms, minor procedure facilities and a cancer center for women with X-ray, mammography and ultrasound services.

“The philanthropic commitment made to the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU by the Simmons law firm in 2005 has been a cornerstone of our research funding. It provides SIU researchers with the tools they need to develop future treatments and gives patients and cancer survivors hope,” said Dr. K Thomas Robbins, SCI director.

The facility’s 70 clinicians and researchers employ a comprehensive approach in the fight against cancer by focusing on three areas: educating the general public, forwarding cancer research and providing patient support services. They have been awarded more than $16 million in national multi-year grant funding in addition to Simmons Hanly Conroy’s initial donation.

Simmons said the decision to support the institute was an easy one. “The firm’s clients are patients and families who are grappling with one of the most devastating cancers known to man,” he said. “We’ve seen what cancer does to families firsthand, and we’re committed to making a difference. Supporting the institute was a decision applauded by our entire Simmons family.”

Simmons started the law firm in 1999 with an emphasis on helping victims of mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. In just over 10 years the firm has made a name for itself, successfully representing thousands of families throughout the country.

“No matter where the family is, we go to them,” said Simmons. “Like the Simmons Cancer Institute, our focus from day one has been to give families the focus and attention they deserve.”