GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Though it has already been treating cancer patients for weeks, the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building on Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile will host its grand opening celebration this week.
The building’s namesake and major donor Doug Meijer said the idea for the building came as he fought prostate cancer at a hospital in Germany, where he was getting a treatment not available domestically.
“We kind of decided that this isn’t right,” Meijer said. “…Because I have the ways and means to go over to Germany for treatment, I’m getting my treatment. But most people don’t have access or affordability to that treatment. It’s very limited over there. And so we thought, why not bring it here?”
Five years later and in partnership with the Michigan State University College of Medicine, that idea has become reality.
The main tenant of the Innovation Center is BAMF Health. Earlier this year, it installed a new high-tech PET and CT scanner that aims to speed up and improve cancer treatment. It has been treating patients for about six weeks.
“The treatment itself is first identical to the treatment I had in Germany with a few improvements,” Meijer said. “The German doctor that treated me there is now part of the BAMF health team here and it’s basically not invasive really. It’s a nuclear isotope with the same molecular structure as the prostate cancer cell. And basically it’s like a drone with a light bulb and a bomb on the end of it, or a grenade, and it goes through your system and finds the cells that match up to the prostate cancer cells and attaches to it and then destroys it. Just those affected cells and virtually no side effects. It’s not like chemo or radiation that damages and kills everything in its path. It’s just so targeted and so accurate. Just those effective cells are destroyed.”
Right now, BAMF is treating prostate cancer, but the hope is the expand the treatment option for breast, colon and pancreatic cancers.
“It’s just remarkable. And again, I’m so blessed that I’m able to do this, but just so proud that every time I walk through the building, I get chills. Every time I drive by the building, I get chills that this is actually happening,” Meijer said. “It’s happening. We’re treating people, we’re saving lives.”
The grand opening open house is slated for Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be there.