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Mangurian Legacy Boosts Cutting-Edge Leukemia Research

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Boston Celtics owner Harry T. Mangurian Jr., from left, Red Auerbach and Bill Fitch watch as Larry Bird signs with the team in 1978.
Photo courtesy of Gordon Latz

By Michelle Moore

National furniture chain owner, real estate developer, thoroughbred breeder, Boston Celtics owner. The late Harry T. Mangurian Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was both a successful businessman and a compassionate philanthropist. Among the World War II veteran’s many legacies is The Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Foundation Inc., which he established with close friends and business associates Stephen Mehallis, now chairman and president, and Gordon Latz, vice president-grants, a decade before his death from leukemia in December 2008.

In December 2010, the Mangurian Foundation gave MD Anderson $250,000, the first payment of a $1 million pledge. The funds will support the leukemia research of Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Pediatrics.

Cooper and his team have advanced immunotherapy for leukemia to the clinical stage. The money from The Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Fund for Leukemia Immunotherapy will help them manufacture clinical-grade T cells genetically modified to eliminate leukemia.

In 2008, when Mangurian received disheartening lab results, he sought treatment with Jorge Cortes, M.D., professor of medicine in MD Anderson’s Department of Leukemia. Cortes had years earlier successfully treated Latz’s brother for chronic myelogenous leukemia.

“Dr. Cortes was our quarterback,” says Latz. “He helped facilitate the process of Harry’s treatment back home in Florida. We were so pleased that we gave our first gift of $220,000 to MD Anderson to support his work.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center