Cuba trip opened Cuomo’s eyes to Roswell Park’s cancer vaccine research

Roswell Park CEO Candace S. Johnson shared a persuasive message about the center’s mission during an April trip to Cuba with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, shown arriving in Havana.

After years of struggle over state funding for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week proposed the first state budget in years with no cuts in aid to the Buffalo research hospital.

The reason may lie in a trip last year to Cuba.

The governor’s April trade mission to Cuba included Dr. Candace S. Johnson, Roswell Park’s CEO. Those familiar with the expedition say Cuomo heard Johnson’s persuasive message about Roswell Park’s mission and viewed firsthand Cuban vaccine researchers partnering with the Buffalo cancer center. That combination relieved the annual budget battle with the state, according to several officials and observers familiar with the trip.

Cuomo’s budget honored the full $102.6 million in state assistance Roswell Park requested for 2016-17.

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