Newswise — The Dan L. Duncan Family Foundation has given The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center $35 million-the institution's largest gift to the cancer prevention program and its second-largest gift in its 67-year history. The funds will be used to establish the Dan Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment.
The Duncan family's generosity will enable M. D. Anderson to study the incidence and determinants of cancer in medically underserved and minority communities. A major element of the Duncan Family Institute will address cancer-related behavioral and genetic risk factors in medically underserved communities to better develop cancer prevention strategies and ultimately reduce cancer-related deaths in this rapidly growing segment of our population.
The gift also will allow M. D. Anderson to recruit additional researchers and clinicians to implement new or enhance current prevention programs and examine the effects of behavior and lifestyle choices on developing cancer.
"Jan and Dan Duncan and their family are well-known for their phenomenal efforts to eradicate a disease that affects millions of people," said M. D. Anderson President John Mendelsohn, M.D. "We are extraordinarily grateful to them for teaming with M. D. Anderson to continue to pioneer new prevention methods. Truly, their support will save countless people the pain and challenge of fighting cancer and will provide them the priceless gift of more time with their friends and family."
Under the direction of Ernest T. Hawk, M.D., M.P.H., vice president of prevention and head of M. D. Anderson's Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, the Duncan Family Institute will bring research and experts together from many disciplines, including epidemiologists, behavioral scientists, biochemists, molecular biologists, computer and information scientists, clinical scientists, and others to leverage and amplify the discoveries of each investigator and laboratory. The Duncan Family Institute will collaborate in related research with Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital and other Houston institutions.
"This unparalleled and visionary gift from the Duncan family will go a long way toward benefiting an often under-funded area of oncology and improving the lives of everyone at risk for cancer, regardless of their socioeconomic status or access to the medical system," said Hawk. "I firmly believe that this gift will enable M. D. Anderson to be the definitive resource for educating the public and health care professionals about state-of-the-art practices in cancer prevention and the critical role that research plays."
Dan Duncan and his family have long supported M. D. Anderson through financial gifts and volunteer activities. Daughter Randa Duncan Williams has served on the University Cancer Foundation Board of Visitors since 2006 and is a former member of M. D Anderson's Advance Team.
"The Duncan family is proud of its long-standing relationship with M.D. Anderson, which is recognized the world over for its groundbreaking achievements in the fight against cancer," said Dan Duncan. "With these additional resources, the talented doctors, researchers, administrators and employees of M. D. Anderson are poised to extend the institution's tradition of innovative advances to the field of prevention, hopefully sparing future generations the ordeal of cancer treatment."
In a flat climate of federal funding, philanthropic gifts are increasingly important to help fund underserved areas, bridge the gap between grants and provide the seed money necessary to successfully compete for federal funding.
"The Duncan family has supported M. D. Anderson for more than 25 years. Their unwavering commitment to the institution is helping us to continue to deliver the best possible outcome for our patients, who are the common denominator in all that we do" said Patrick Mulvey, vice president for Development. "Their support throughout the years has provided our researchers the resources they've needed to successfully compete for grants and has helped move their findings into the clinics quickly. Through their generosity, lives will be touched for decades to come."
About M. D. Anderson
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. M. D. Anderson is one of only 39 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For five of the past eight years, M. D. Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," a survey published annually in U.S. News and World Report.