Moffitt celebrates 20 years of patient care, research and education

October 20, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. – H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is celebrating its 20th anniversary of providing the best in patient care, research and education. The center first opened its doors to patients Oct. 27, 1986. Below please find some story ideas and comparisons through the years.

First Patient - David Sheppard didn’t know he was making history when he got sick and had to be rushed to the hospital on the morning of October 27, 1986. The 17-year-old with a rare bone marrow condition became Moffitt’s first patient. Now, at age 37, Sheppard’s a husband, father and assistant principal at Wharton High School in Tampa. He recalls vividly the day he entered Moffitt for the first time. He remembers it looking more like a mall than a hospital. It didn’t even smell like a hospital… no antiseptic, medicinal odors at all. What struck him most was how helpful and kind the staff was that first day and for the many months he continued to come for treatment. He believes he “wouldn’t be here today without the lifesaving care I got that very first day.”

First Researcher - Julie Y. Djeu, Ph.D. is Moffitt’s first researcher. She joined Moffitt in 1992. Djeu is the Program Leader for Immunology and the Manuel and Adeline Garcia Endowed Chair in Cancer Leadership. She previously worked at the Food and Drug Administration where she was head of the Cytokine Biology Laboratory. She received her doctorate at George Washington University in medical microbiology. Djeu has published more than 180 research articles and co-authored 40 book chapters. She is a member of the American Association of Immunologists, American Society of Microbiology, American Association of Cancer Researchers, and the Society of Natural


Immunity. Djeu was one of the original contributors to the understanding of natural killer (NK) cells and provided the first insight into cytokine regulation of NK cells by identifying interferon as the key activator of NK cell function. Her present interest is defining the signals required to activate NK and T cells against tumor cells, and it includes a molecular approach to analyze the signal transduction pathways in these lymphocytes, with the ultimate goal of applying this knowledge to immunotherapy of cancer.

First Physician - Dr. Richard Karl is the Richard G. Connar Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of South Florida.  Karl served as the founding Medical Director of Moffitt.  He developed interdisciplinary teams for patient care, teaching and research. He established relationships with the USF College of Medicine, the state legislature and the community.  He implemented the Interdisciplinary Gastrointestinal Tumor Program at the cancer center and served as its leader.  He has served the cancer center as Chief of Surgery and started the Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program, one of 14 in the United States. Karl received his M.D. degree from Cornell University. He is the author of more than 65 publications and is a member of several national organizations, including the Society of University Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology, the Southern Surgical Association and the American Surgical Association.  He currently serves as Governor-at-Large of the American College of Surgeons.  He served as Chairman of the Special Issues Subcommittee of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.


*All of the above are available for interviews. Please call Michelle Foley at (813) 745-1505 to schedule.



1986                                        2006




Operating rooms





6,273 (2005)

Outpatients visits


212,562 (2005)




Medical Staff



Total sq. ft.


1.3 million

Grant dollars

No research

$54 million

 About H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

Located in Tampa, Florida on the University of South Florida campus, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute ( is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 16 affiliates in the state of Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Hospitals for cancer. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.