Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel point to longtime state legislator Jerry Bookout as both a friend and an inspiration to Arkansans.
The memory of Bookout, who died of lymphoma in 2006, also could inspire researchers in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute with the 2010 opening of the Bookout Translational Research Center. The Center’s location, adjacent to the infusion center in the Cancer Institute expansion, symbolizes its intent: a place where scientific advances are translated to new medical treatments to benefit cancer patients.
Cancer Institute director Peter Emanuel, M.D., said the Center reflects increased focus on moving discoveries quickly from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside.
“We are in the beginning stages of a new era in cancer therapy, borne out of translational research,” Emanuel said. “It is an era of more targeted treatments that attack the cancer cells while leaving the normal cells unaffected.”
He cited the cancer-fighting drug Gleevec, which grew out of laboratory research. Basic science uncovered the genetic mutation that caused certain types of cancer. A drug was developed that targeted those cancer cells while leaving others alone.
Bookout, who spent 34 years as a state representative and senator, served many years on legislative committees that dealt with health and education issues.
“Jerry Bookout’s dedication to health care would give him an especially deep appreciation for the work to be done at this Center,” Gov. Mike Beebe said. “After all of his years working for public health in the Arkansas Senate, putting Jerry’s name on a facility that strives to get new research to the patients it can help is a fitting legacy.”
The Jonesboro native’s career started in the 1960s and stretched into the 21st century.
“Jerry Bookout was one of my heroes and mentors all of my life,” said Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, also a Jonesboro native. “I am so pleased to see Jerry honored in this way and I share the pride felt by
[Bookout’s wife] Loretta and the rest of his family knowing that that this great man and his legacy will be remembered and honored by generations to come.”
A plaque honoring Bookout will be placed between the basic science labs and the treatment area where patients come for chemotherapy.
It was Bookout’s son Paul — following in his father’s footsteps at the state Capitol — who joined every member of the Legislature in sponsoring the 2007 bill now providing up to $46 million in matching funds to pay for the 300,000-square-foot Cancer Institute expansion.
“In my mind there is no more perfect a tribute for Dad than the naming of this center as it combines his two great passions: education and health care,” said state Sen. Paul Bookout.