Recent Notable Philanthropy: Cancer Innovation and Investment
Breast cancer and liver cancer awareness month is coming to a close, and November is awareness month for carcinoid, gastric, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Below is a summary of philanthropic investments in cancer research and innovation highlighting gifts over $10M since 2020:
Break Through Cancer announced the launch of a public foundation designed to find new solutions to the most intractable challenges in cancer. The foundation’s launch is supported by a $250M challenge pledge from Mr. and Mrs. William H. Goodwin, Jr., their family, and the estate of William Hunter Goodwin, III. Multidisciplinary research teams will be selected from across five participating institutions: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. Break Through Cancer will focus on historically highly challenging cancer types, including pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, glioblastoma, and acute myelogenous leukemia, for its initial programs, aided by the guidance of a scientific advisory board of cancer experts from outside the participating institutions.
Nemours Children’s Health announced a $78M donation from the Lisa Dean Moseley to fund new and innovative research programs and to dramatically expand Nemours Children’s capacity to provide clinical care for children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other blood disorders. The announcement was made in the unfinished, fifth-floor shell space at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware that will now become a new inpatient unit to be known as the Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation Institute for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Nemours Children’s Health. The gift also creates or supports the Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation Presidential Endowed Chair for Institute Director, Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation Endowed Chair for Sickle Cell Disease, Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation Institute Endowed Laureate Program, and Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation International Symposium.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center announced a $55M gift from Penn alumni Mindy and Jon Gray to establish the Basser Cancer Interception Institute, creating a new weapon to target hereditary cancers at their earliest stages. The institute will aim to dramatically disrupt the timeline of cancer treatment, “intercepting” disease when the very first abnormal BRCA1/2 cells develop – or even stopping cancer from developing at all – rather than reducing cancer risk through surgery or treating cancer once it has grown enough to become visible through imaging and testing. The Basser team will pioneer efforts ranging from drugs and immune-based approaches to intercept BRCA-related cancers to new methods of detecting cancer cells with biomarkers and artificial intelligence.
Continuing their family’s deep commitment to conquering pancreatic cancer, Judith B. Hale, her son, Robert T. Hale, Jr., and his wife, Karen Hale, have pledged an additional $50M to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This gift will support the Hale Family Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, founded in 2016 with $15M from Judith, Robert, and Karen, and bring the Hale Family’s cumulative support to Dana-Farber to over $80M. This new gift will enable two main areas of pancreatic cancer research: early detection and prevention, and precision medicine and biology. The Hale Family Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research will launch teams of scientists to leverage health system data to identify those at highest risk for pancreatic cancer, detect it earlier through new imaging approaches and blood tests, and develop new treatments for pre-invasive and early invasive pancreatic cancers. The center will also investigate the biology and interplay of pancreatic cancer cells, the immune system, and stromal cells, and develop a series of clinical trials to test new therapies based upon discoveries from these initiatives.
A $30M gift from University of Michigan regent Ron Weiser will fund a Michigan Medicine program focused on prostate cancer. The gift will establish the Ronald Weiser Center for Prostate Cancer, as well as fund the center’s staffing, infrastructure, technology and education programs. Research into the disease and its treatment will also receive funding. The Weiser Center for Prostate Cancer will fall under the health system’s Rogel Cancer Center. The new center will combine three of the medical disciplines found at Michigan Medicine: the urology, radiation oncology and radiology departments. Each department will provide representatives to serve in leadership roles within the Weiser Center.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) announced that the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation has contributed $25M to establish an endowment supporting three of the hospital’s signature programs: the Cancer and Blood Disease Institute, the Vision Center and Inpatient Rehabilitation Services. In recognition of this transformative gift, CHLA will be naming the main driveway at its 4650 Sunset Boulevard campus the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Entry Plaza, in honor of Mr. Petersen’s role as founding publisher of Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines and founder of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
An anonymous donor made a $25M gift to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to establish the UNC Lineberger Center for Triple Negative Breast Cancer and to support other key UNC Lineberger initiatives. This gift enables the cancer center to advance its groundbreaking research on diagnosing and treating a highly aggressive breast cancer that disproportionately affects Black, Latina, and young women and historically has limited research funding. The gift was made in gratitude for the care a family member received while being treated for cancer at UNC, and to help expand and expedite the cutting-edge cancer research being conducted at UNC Lineberger. Specifically, the donor designated their investment to help women and men with all types of breast cancer, especially triple-negative breast cancer because of its poor prognosis. In addition, the gift will support research directed toward developing more effective treatments for metastatic disease, improving pediatric cancer care and eliminating racial disparities in cancer treatment outcomes.
A $22.1M gift from The Centene Charitable Foundation will support Mayo Clinic’s research into pancreatic cancer. This research will focus on patient-centered solutions using artificial intelligence and advanced diagnostics for early detection.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center announced a $20M gift from the Ge Li & Ning Zhao Family Foundation to support lung cancer research and the development of new therapies to treat this disease. The Ning Zhao & Ge Li Family Initiative for Lung Cancer Research and New Therapies will work toward gaining a deeper understanding of the biology of lung cancer in order to develop new targeted therapies to overcome drug resistance and to prevent metastasis. It will create three Ning Zhao & Ge Li endowed chairs at MSK and a research fund to underwrite basic, translational, and clinical research. The initiative will also support critical new research projects led by research fellows and fund essential related work in the Department of Pathology.
The Ryan and Ashley Smith Foundation donated $20M to Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. The donation will expand pediatric cancer research benefiting Primary Children’s patients through continued groundbreaking clinical trials, faculty recruitment, research personnel and equipment, social work and psychology support and improvement of the overall patient experience. The gift will also establish 5 For The Fight family centers — unique spaces for families of children receiving treatments for cancer and blood disorders — at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City and at the hospital’s new Larry H. and Gail Miller Family campus in Lehi, UT.
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus announced the creation of the Katy O. and Paul M. Rady Esophageal and Gastric Center of Excellence, made possible by a $20M philanthropic investment from Katy O. and Paul M. Rady. The investment will advance esophageal and gastric cancer research, clinical trials, screening, surveillance, and treatments. The Center will be housed in the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Additionally, the gift supports an endowed chair and an innovation fund.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced a $16.25M gift from Howard and Susan Elias to accelerate brain tumor and cancer neuroscience research, an emerging field focused on integrating the role of the nervous system in cancer. The Elias’ gift serves as the lead donation to concentrate cross-disciplinary research in cancer neuroscience at MD Anderson. The gift aims to extend patients’ lives and to eliminate their suffering through a comprehensive understanding of the interactions of the nervous system with cancer. Additionally, the Elias family’s gift provides secure, sustainable support for generations of researchers to come as they push the limits in searching for new therapies and cures.
Henry Ford Health System today announced a $16M gift to its Henry Ford Pancreatic Cancer Center (HFPCC), which was launched in 2018 by an initial $20M gift from the same donor, who wishes to remain anonymous. The gift will bolster the HFPCC’s clinical and translational research endeavors in the fight against this devastating disease, for which the five-year survival rate is only 9%. This gift advances the HFPCC commitment to building key partnerships with internationally renowned organizations that share the health system’s vision to one day eradicate pancreatic cancer.
The William N. Pennington Foundation has announced a $15.5M gift to the Renown Health Foundation to help establish the William N. Pennington Cancer Institute at Renown. This gift will help to bolster care and clinical expertise to improve the lives of people with cancer across northern Nevada. Through this gift, 100,000 area children now have access to pediatric specialists and contemporary healthcare services at the region’s only children’s hospital. The Renown Institute for Cancer will now be named the William N. Pennington Cancer Institute in honor of the foundation’s gift. The Pennington grant will focus on bolstering expert clinical care to address the many concerns that come with a cancer diagnosis and allow people to stay in northern Nevada instead of having to travel hundreds of miles out of the area for specialty care. The Institute will be devoted to advancing cancer care, cancer screening, prevention, and cancer research, including the ability to offer the latest clinical trials.
A gift commitment of $12.5M to Indiana University School of Medicine from the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer will support new research to harness immunotherapy for breast cancer treatment. The gift will help launch immunotherapy research efforts to develop better therapies for triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer that is often not responsive to hormone therapies and is resistant to chemotherapy.
Hanna and Mark Gleiberman donated $12M to UCSD, supporting the Gleiberman Head and Neck Cancer Center. The gift supports clinical trials for head and neck cancer treatment, training for head and neck cancer fellows, investments in junior faculty, an endowed fund to provide seed support for research projects and necessary equipment, enhancing patient experiences, and providing funds for services not covered by health insurance.
Mount Sinai received a second $10M gift from the Waldman Family. This gift will open the Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center at Mount Sinai. Housed within the Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Department of Dermatology at the May Center for Mount Sinai Doctors, at 5 E. 98th Street in Manhattan, the new Waldman Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center will provide patients with comprehensive, coordinated services across the Mount Sinai Health System, in partnership with the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai. With both doctors and scientists working together, exchanging clinical insights and laboratory findings, the goal of the Waldman Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center is to design the best treatment for each patient—and to advance early melanoma and skin cancer diagnosis, treatment, and research.
Stamford Health announced that it has received a philanthropic commitment of $10M from the Odyssey Group Foundation, as part of its Campaign for Women and Babies. The campaign is funding the modernization of the Whittingham Pavilion on Stamford Health’s Bennett Medical Center Campus, along with the expansion of other services and programs throughout Stamford Health, all focused on providing unparalleled care for women and babies in Lower Fairfield County. Odyssey’s generous commitment will go directly toward a relocation and total transformation of Stamford Health’s Breast Center at the Tully Health Center.
Vijay and Marie Goradia donated $10M to support Dr. Katy Rezvani’s research, following Vijay’s successful treatment of renal cell carcinoma. Dr. Rezvani’s Phase I/II study seeks to test the safety, feasibility, persistence, and antitumor activity of this emerging line of cellular therapy. By genetically modifying NK cells with chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) designed to bind to specific proteins on the surface of cancer cells, the NK cells can be activated to target CD70, a protein present in many cancers, including RCC. These CD70 CAR NK cells can be multiplied in the lab, frozen and stored, and then thawed and transfused into patients to treat cancer without the toxicities typically experienced with other immunotherapies.
Riley Children’s Foundation received a $10M commitment from Walther Cancer Foundation to research new treatments for children’s cancers. The Walther Foundation’s $10 million commitment will provide a 1:1 match for donors who establish endowed children’s cancer research funds at Riley Children’s Foundation – ultimately resulting in at least $20M to fuel discoveries. The funds will be deployed to support children’s cancer research at Indiana University School of Medicine, which is the research partner to Riley Children’s and Indiana University Health. Research will also be closely coordinated with the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.