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Annual Report - 2007-2008 - Development

Annual Report - Winter 2009

Commitment to Development

Small Gifts, Huge Impact
Planned Giving: On the Road to New Discoveries
Young Cancer Patient Inspired to Start a Foundation
Duncan Family Energizes MD Anderson’s Prevention Program
One Family’s Dedication to Brain Cancer Research
Koch Gift Fuels Progress in Prostate Cancer Research

Small Gifts, Huge Impact

Unrestricted Funds Provide Critical Bridge for Research


By DeDe DeStefano

Joseph McCarty, Ph.D.

In December 2007, Joseph McCarty, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, found himself facing a tough decision.

He could take a 20 percent cut in support from the National Cancer Institute for his research program over five years, or risk a gap in the substantial progress his team was making against brain cancer while he reapplied for a larger federal grant.

A 20 percent cut would mean his lab would be limited in its ability to perform experiments aimed at studying fundamental mechanisms underlying brain tumor initiation and progression. But reapplying for a grant would take several months, and his resources already were severely depleted.

Tightening of funding for research is a common problem in academic medicine today because the NCI only can fund 15 percent of the grants that are approved by peer review. Fortunately, MD Anderson’s bridge funding program bought him some crucial extra time. Philanthropic gifts to the institution’s annual fund help provide bridge funding for talented scientists who “just miss” the cutoff.

“Bridge funds carried my lab through nine months of research at a very critical time during the program. My lab was quite productive, and I had originally applied for a National Institutes of Health grant, but the peer-reviewed score was just outside the funding range by a couple of percentage points. I could have accepted an offer that the NIH grant program manager made, but my research allotment would have taken a nearly $200,000 cut over a five-year period,” McCarty says. “The bridge funds were instrumental in keeping my lab going, paying salaries and making essential purchases of supplies and equipment.”

The $104,000 McCarty received in bridge funds enabled him to successfully compete for new federal funding of nearly $1.1 million over a five-year period.
“The bridge funds provided by MD Anderson have enabled my group to make several exciting findings related to how brain tumor cells co-opt blood vessels,” McCarty says. “This may eventually lead to new strategies to inhibit these processes in patients with malignant brain cancer.”

Unrestricted gifts to MD Anderson are pooled together and distributed to the greatest areas of need. In 2008, the institution received more than 110,000 donations to its annual fund from about 76,000 individuals, totaling $10.8 million. The average gift was just under $100. 

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Planned Giving: On the Road to New Discoveries

By Sarah Watson

Pat and Jerry Abbott

When Pat and Jerry Abbott of Pharr, Texas, began their journey together as a married couple, they didn’t plan to make MD Anderson one of their stops along the way.

But Jerry’s diagnosis of colon cancer two years ago provided an unexpected detour for the recently retired couple. Diagnosed in Corpus Christi, Jerry faced surgery and knew his next decision would be a driving influence in his recovery. Recalling wife Pat’s trip to MD Anderson years ago for a second opinion on a suspicious mole (it proved not to be cancerous), he insisted on heading straight for Houston.

Once at MD Anderson, the Abbotts were “amazed and pleased” on every level — so much so that they’ve structured their planned giving to include three charitable gift annuities, plus an additional gift through their estate. They’re proud that one day their contributions will support research in which they’re particularly interested, such as that of Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., director of the Integrative Medicine Program, and Frank Marini, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation Research.

“I wanted to go to MD Anderson because of its reputation as a world-class cancer center,” Jerry says. “The doctors there perform more surgeries to treat specific cancers in one week than others do in a year. I wanted to go where cancer is the specialty.”

Today Jerry is cancer-free. He says if he ever wins the lottery, “I’ll give it all to MD Anderson.”

In the meantime, the Abbotts travel the country in their snazzy new recreational vehicle, occasionally parking it in Houston for Jerry’s six-month checkups. Cancer has been a bump in the road, to be sure. But this forward-thinking couple is using their experience to help MD Anderson move mountains in the fight against the disease.

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Young Cancer Patient Inspired to Start a Foundation

By DeDe DeStefano

The Lobo Family

In July 2005, at the age of 36, Rich Lobo was enjoying an exciting career in Chicago, spending time with his beautiful wife, Kathy, and two young children when he began experiencing pain in his right hip.

He visited his orthopedist, who initially believed the pain to be from a pulled muscle or inflammation of an old sports injury. However, an MRI detected a large mass in his pelvis. When a biopsy revealed liposarcoma, a disease of the soft tissue with a five-year survival rate of less than 50 percent, Lobo was stunned.

“I was scared that the long life that I had always planned to spend with my family was going to be cut short, and I was saddened by the prospect of my young children growing up without their father,” he says.

Lobo immediately came to MD Anderson, where Raphael Pollock, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Division of Surgery, and a team of specialists met him.

“My wife and I were comforted by the multidisciplinary approach. It made us feel like we were getting a comprehensive view from numerous specialists who saw this disease every day. I trusted them and was determined to fight this disease. I knew that the way to do that effectively would require proactively finding the best doctors and putting my care in their hands,” he continues.

After an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy, followed by radiation and surgery to remove the tumor, Lobo now is cancer-free.

“Given the experience we had at MD Anderson, my wife and I wanted to give back in some way. We knew Dr. Pollock was in the process of creating a sarcoma research center, and we knew we wanted to help.”

The Lobos formed a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to support sarcoma research. Through fundraisers and corporate donations, their Sarcoma Research Foundation has donated more than $250,000 to MD Anderson’s Sarcoma Research Center.

“We wanted to do it because sarcoma is a rare disease, so despite the poor survival rate, research is badly underfunded. The idea is to raise awareness, as well as resources,” Lobo says. “We intend to continue to partner with MD Anderson fighting this disease to make a difference in the lives of both current and future sarcoma patients.”

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Duncan Family Energizes MD Anderson’s Prevention Program

The Dan L. Duncan Family Foundation propelled MD Anderson’s prevention program to a new level through a $35 million gift designed to help people reduce the risk of cancer and take measures against the disease. The donation was the largest gift made to the institution’s prevention program and the second largest in MD Anderson’s history.

“The Duncans’ generosity will ensure accelerated progress toward pioneering new prevention methods and increased awareness of genetic predisposition to cancer, as well as the importance of behavior modification and potential therapy options to remain cancer-free,” says MD Anderson President John Mendelsohn, M.D. The gift established the Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment, which encompasses numerous programs developed within the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences and will build on the division’s success in integrating basic, clinical and public health research.

Special programs and events, such as the annual Polo on the Prairie, accelerate fundraising efforts for MD Anderson.

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One Family’s Dedication to Brain Cancer Research

The recently dedicated Chris Anthony Library in the Department of Neuro-Oncology at MD Anderson honors one family’s dedication to propel brain cancer research. Through contributions of more than $500,000 to the Chris Anthony Brain Tumor Research Fund, their efforts are helping researchers and clinicians make great strides in fighting the disease. The Head for the Cure 5K Run/Walk they established in memory of the Overland, Kan., businessman, who succumbed to glioblastoma multiforme in 2003, helps fuel the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative led by MD Anderson. Investigating new treatments for malignant brain tumors, the multi-institution effort includes a number of clinical trials such as a study of sorafenib, an antiangiogenic agent used to treat other solid tumors. Preclinical and early clinical testing suggests the drug may be effective in curbing the growth of glioblastomas as well.

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Wearing pink jerseys in support of the fight against breast cancer, U.S. Women’s National Team members celebrate their victory over Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation and the Women’s National Team contributed more than $31,000 from an online auction of the jerseys to breast cancer research at MD Anderson. All 18 game-worn and autographed jerseys received bids, with winning bids ranging from $920 to $4,100.

Koch Gift Fuels Progress in Prostate Cancer Research

As executive vice president and one of the principals of Koch Industries, David Koch is well known in business as a motivator, a forward-thinker and someone who is results-oriented. Recently, he brought that energy to MD Anderson through $18 million to fuel the progress against prostate cancer. Koch is a 16-year survivor of the disease, and his gift established the David Koch Center for Applied Research in Genitourinary Cancers under the direction of his doctor, Christopher Logothetis, M.D., chair of the Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology. “The goal is to create a unique infrastructure that enables us to take abundant discovery more efficiently and more reliably into human studies,” Logothetis says. Koch also donates his time to MD Anderson, serving on the Board of Visitors since 1999 and hosting events.

Faculty Honors

Sharon Dent, Ph.D., professor and deputy chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, was chosen for the 2008 Business and Professional Women’s/Texas Award.

Laurence J.N. Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, received a 2008 Clinical Scientist Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center