JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Gov. Rick Scott visited Jacksonville on Tuesday seeking support for $60 million to fund of existing cancer centers and $20 million more for research grants.

Scott was joined by University of Florida Health officials and Mayor Alvin Brown at the UF Proton Therapy Institute to announce his request for the $80 million investment for cancer research funding in this year's budget proposal.

Scott says the money will make Florida the No. 1 state investing in cancer research.

"Cancer research funding is important to the health and well-being of countless Floridians," Scott said. "It is because of the work of Florida’s cancer centers that patients can receive world-class treatment and the needed support to beat this terrible disease. We must continue to focus on enhancing Florida’s cancer research community until Florida is the best in the nation for research."

The UF Proton Therapy Institute is staffed, situated and structured as a major clinical research facility, and serves as a center for multidisciplinary research involving all interests that touch cancer and its treatment. Since opening in August 2006, the institute has used proton therapy to treat 5,000 patients each year.

"As Florida quickly becomes the third-most-populous state in the country, it is imperative that its citizens have access to world-class cancer care," said Dr. David S. Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida and president of UF Health,. "It is through partnership and collaboration that we stand the best chance of finding better treatments and potential cures."

Scott said the funding will further enhance Florida’s robust system for cancer research and collaboration which already includes projects funded by the peer-reviewed William G. “Bill" Bankhead Jr. and David Coley Cancer Research Program, and the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program, both which were established by the Florida Legislature.