ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Wilmot Cancer Institute is competing for one of the most prestigious titles in the country — a National Cancer Institute designation.

With the title, comes a competitive grant that local leaders say could take patient care to the next level.

“This became really a primary driver of our time,” said Jonathan Friedberg, director at Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Friedberg says he and his team are feeling relieved, after presenting a hefty application to the NCI this week.

“I felt that we were very deserving of this status,” he said.

The cachet is certainly appealing, but it’s more than that.

Friedberg says the work is partly inspired by a great disparity in our region.

For example — he says if their catchment area was it’s own state, it would have the second highest rate of cancer in the country, second to Kentucky.

To receive this NCI title means access to the most cutting-edge resources and top-notch physicians, he says.

“So that was really our strong case to the NCI, that we’re serving a region that has a disproportionate high incidence of cancer.”

Getting to this point was a lot of work. The process took five years, he says.

The application itself, is over 1000 pages. The institute also did an entire reconstruction of the center, millions of dollars of investment, and a lot of community engagement.

Friedberg is relieved the work on their end is done.

“We’re not particularly good about bragging. And what I try to say to my team is, this is a day where we can brag,” he said. “What we were able to show is, I think a dedication to this community, and the true impact of the work that’s being done here.”

The team will be receive feedback from the panelists in a six weeks, before getting a final answer in May.

Friedberg says the project has support from elected officials like Mayor Malik Evans.

“Mayor Evans made a video that we were able to show [this week], just demonstrating the city of Rochester’s support for our effort,” he said.