Supporters of countless causes, Eric Lefkofsky, chairman and co-founder of Groupon and managing director of Lightbank, and his wife, Liz, recently gifted $785,000 to MD Anderson to help find more effective treatments for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).
MD Anderson researchers have developed a promising hypothesis on what causes one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer to resist treatment, but they lacked funding for the study. With the donation from the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, the project now can move ahead, says principal investigator Nicholas Navin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Genetics. Navin hopes that by gaining a greater understanding of TNBC, his team will greatly improve the availability of successful therapies for the disease.
“My wife and I have been dedicated to advancing scientific discovery through philanthropy for the past decade,” says Eric. “Over time, we’ve come to realize that a small number of institutions are pioneers in applying cutting-edge technologies in an effort to save lives. MD Anderson is one of those pioneers and, as such, we’re thrilled to be able to support its work.”
Navin, who holds appointments in the departments of Genetics and Bioinformatics, will use his unique expertise to lead a five-person team in a novel TNBC study. Researchers will attempt to understand the origin and evolution of TNBC’s high resistance to existing chemotherapy treatments. By first identifying the rare cells resistant to therapy, the researchers then will seek to target those cells and re-sensitize them to treatment.
“We’re extremely grateful to Eric and Liz Lefkofsky, whose generous donation enables us to move forward with our theory on what causes the illness to resist treatment, and how we can find the best solutions," said Navin.
Established in 2006 by Liz and Eric Lefkofsky as a private charitable foundation, the Lefkofsky Family Foundation aims to advance high-impact programs, initiatives and research that enhance the quality of human life. To achieve this mission, the foundation strives to:
- Ensure access to quality education
- Improve fundamental human rights
- Propel innovative medical research
- Expand cultural initiatives