But Darling was no stranger to the fight against cancer. Having recently lost an aunt to breast cancer, he set off on a mission, using his background in venture capital to help move the needle in cancer research, seeking out the most innovative cancer research institutions in the world. MD Anderson was at the top of the list.
How did you get involved in the fight against cancer?
I think everyone's been touched by a personal story with cancer. My family has had various cases of cancer, but the one that affected me most was my aunt, Francesca. She was a nurse in Zurich, Siwtzerland, had two beautiful boys, had all the means in the world but died of breast cancer. That was a very real moment, and it propelled me to look at the research side of what was happening in cancer, to see what little I could do to help support frontier cancer research efforts.
What led you to MD Anderson?
When I moved to the States, I asked some friends who were earning doctorates in oncology, "which institutions are pioneering the way in cancer research and really making the biggest impact? Is it in the United States or is it outside? And if it is, can you point out a couple?" MD Anderson was one that kept coming up at the top of the list. I had never heard of it before, and I'd never even visited Texas, but I took the reference seriously and decided to donate in Francesca's name to MD Anderson in the area of breast cancer.
What has been most rewarding as an Advance Team member?
It amazes me that an institution as massive as MD Anderson, with the incredible impact it has in the global fight to end cancer, is not as known as it should be. I'm proud to be a member of the Advance Team, and I look forward to playing a part in expanding MD Anderson's reach — nationally and internationally — to get the recognition it deserves.
Why do you support MD Anderson in Making Cancer History®?
As we start to live longer, more and more people will be affected by cancer. It's really a human issue that affects the whole population, whether it's your family, you directly or someone you know. Look at the data and you'll see that you'll eventually be touched by it if you haven't been already. We need to work to understand how the body operates, how it interacts with the process of aging, with disease and all these different areas to grow our general understanding of cancer and how we can prevent it from occurring. The more you understand cancer, the more you know the word is more of a catch-call phrase for a huge amount of different kinds of disease states that are each very individual. To me, it seems like the biggest fight in health for the human population going forward. It really affects everyone, and young people might not feel it straight away. Being involved helps educate us and fuels our passion to gain more knowledge about it as we move on with life.
Resides: San Francisco, California
Education: Bachelor of Economics, University of Sydney
Occupation: Founder, Darling Ventures
Advance Team: Member, 2013 - present