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History & Facts

History of the Stephenson Cancer Center


With the leadership of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, state officials, and the Oklahoma Legislature, a plan for a comprehensive academic cancer center was formulated in 2001, when the Oklahoma Legislature called on OU to assume "statewide leadership" in cancer research, prevention, treatment, and education. It also directed that the university seek "Comprehensive Cancer Center" designation by the National Cancer Institute, the gold standard of research and care. This set in motion the creation of the cancer center.

Oklahoma moved one step closer to building its new cancer center when state voters passed State Question 713 in November 2004, which tapped tobacco taxes to fund construction of a new treatment and clinical research facility in Oklahoma City. More than $90 million from tobacco taxes was dedicated to the construction efforts.

In November of 2010, Peggy and Charles Stephenson of Tulsa made a historic $12 million donation to the university to benefit cancer programs in Oklahoma. In recognition of the Stephensons' commitment and to underline OU's mission of serving the entire state, the OU Board of Regents approved a new name for the Cancer Center: Stephenson Cancer Center.

OU broke ground for the new building in 2008, a project that marked the state's single largest public-private biomedical initiative in history. In Summer 2011, the Stephenson Cancer Center building officially opened its doors, creating the state's only comprehensive cancer center.

Since the first patient appointment was made, the Stephenson has dedicated its resources and knowledge to providing precision medicine to its patients.

Combining the best practices in patient care and the latest in research and technology, each Stephenson patient receives a unique treatment plan with a support team of multi-discliplinary specialists to help them navigate through treatment and recovery. The Stephenson has quickly earned a reputation in clinical research and patient care, hitting important milestones along the way.

As the Stephenson Cancer Center continues to exceed the expectations of its patients and Oklahoma, it prepares to apply for National Cancer Institute-designation in the next few years, which will represent the ultimate validation of the outstanding research and care at the Stephenson.

Facts & Figures


Patient Care

Ranks as the number one center for cancer care in Oklahoma by US News & World Report

Provided patient navigation services for more than 400 Native Americans 

Clinical Trials

Annually ranks among the top three cancer centers in the nation for patients participating in National Cancer Institute-sponsored treatment trials

One of 30 designated lead centers nationally in the National Cancer Institute's National Clinical Trials Network

Ranks in the top ten nationally in patients participating in phase I clinical trials


More than 200 research members who are conducting more than 165 cancer research projects at institutions across Oklahoma

Supported by $41.2 million in annual funding from the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and other sponsor