LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) recently announced that it has raised more than $15 million towards NCI Designation, the halfway point toward its $30 million goal.

A recent $1 million gift from Kim and Chris Fowler of Jonesboro put UAMS over the halfway mark.

“Raising $15 million for a single cause in such a short time is remarkable, and I want to thank every single donor who has helped make this possible,” said Cam Patterson, UAMS chancellor and UAMS Health CEO.

“We are humbled and extremely grateful to the Fowlers for their generosity and love for their fellow Arkansans. The Fowler family is beloved and well-known for being successful in business, but they are also known for their giving spirit. This gift is representative of that.”

The Fowlers made their gift in appreciation of James Y. Suen, M.D., who treated Chris Fowler when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2011.

The gift also continues the philanthropic legacy of Chris Fowler’s parents, Wallace W. and Jama Fowler, who have given millions to support health care and education in Northeast Arkansas.

“Kim and I are honored to make this donation in honor of James Suen, a truly world-class doctor,” said Fowler. “A lot of people say, I owe my life to someone, but I can truly say it, not only to Dr. Suen but the entire team at UAMS.”

NCI Designation is a highly competitive assessment process during which cancer centers must demonstrate outstanding depth and breadth of high-quality cancer research and treatment.

Receiving designation brings substantial benefits, including the ability to access significant federal research funding and offer clinical trials not available to non-designated centers. It also is expected to result in a $72 million economic impact on Arkansas and create approximately 1,500 new jobs over five years.

There are 71 NCI-designated cancer centers in 36 states across the country, with the closest to Arkansas being in Memphis (pediatrics only), Dallas and Oklahoma City.

About 68 percent of the funds awarded by the National Cancer Institute for research and clinical trials go to NCI-designated centers.