University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)


September 2012

September 2012Cancer care is costly—in every sense of the word. The diagnosis of cancer is costly to the patient, and his or her family and friends, and brings anxiety and departure from one's normal life, at least for a while. It is costly to society, robbing us of the contributions of productive citizens who must dwell on regaining health, often at substantial expense to themselves and society.

Advances in cancer care that are fueled by cancer research are no less costly. Basic science, clinical trials, and community-based research are all mandatory investments as we seek to continue to reduce cancer incidence and mortality. As a consequence, all members of our team at University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC CancerCenter are so grateful for three events in early September that are helping to support our mission in the most tangible way.

Grant OliphanSeptember 6 saw the extraordinary announcement by Grant Oliphant of the Pittsburgh Foundation of a $1 million gift to anchor an endowed chair, the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair for Innovative Cancer Research. This amazing gift symbolizes the innovative thinking and partnership of the Pittsburgh Foundation on behalf of its many donors to support the vision of precision cancer research and medicine. We at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute are hard at work raising another $1 million that is required to endow the chair fund fully and allow us to name an innovative researcher whose work will be supported. Already nearly $400,000 has been raised thanks to the commitment of the members of the Pittsburgh community who have stepped up to support this cause.

Stand Up 2 Cancer LogoOn September 7, I was privileged to attend the live telethon in Los Angeles for Stand Up To Cancer, a four-year old organization committed to funding cancer research in a new way. We at Pitt are part of a Dream Team devoted to laboratory and clinical research in epigenetic therapy—a group of experts from across the country who were assembled to tackle the question of how epigenetic therapy can be used across a variety of cancer types including breast, lung, and colon cancer and certain hematological disorders. At Pitt, we are committed to clinical investigation of epigenetic therapy for breast and lung cancer, through the engagement of our team members, Drs. Rachel Jankowitz, Adam Brufsky, Arjun Pennathur, Rodney Landreneau, and James Luketich. Carried live by the major television networks and supported by many Hollywood stars, the telethon brought both awareness and donations to the cause of cancer research. We are so pleased to be part of this important research effort.

A highlight of the year for all of us at University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC CancerCenter is the Hillman Cancer Center Gala. About 1,000 supporters of our mission will gather at the Consol Energy Center on September 14 to celebrate what we have accomplished and recommit to what we must do to conquer cancer. This event would not be possible without the sponsorship of the PNC Foundation, and we thank the Foundation under the able leadership of Eva Blum for their unwavering support. Special thanks must also go to honorary chairs, Elsie and Henry Hillman and Cathy and Sy Holzer, as well as this year's gala co-chairs, Becky and John Surma and Cristina and Carlos Cardoso who have worked so hard to make this evening possible for all of us.

Resources matter. We are at a time of the most extraordinary discovery about what makes cancers tick and how we can use this knowledge to overcome cancer. Maintaining our momentum is absolutely critical and the ability to fund the most promising new ideas from our researchers and clinicians is vital. For this reason we are indebted to the many Pittsburghers who are supporting us through the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair for Innovative Cancer Research and the Hillman Cancer Center Gala as well as the many Americans who support Stand Up To Cancer. Truly all of us are committed to our vision of a future without cancer.


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