Grant funds will help launch the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s lung cancer research center and create an endowed chair for prostate cancer research.
A $7.5 million investment from The Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation will help further boost Oregon Health & Science University’s momentum and leadership in the field of cancer research. The Foundation granted $5 million to help the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute launch a lung cancer research center and awarded $2.5 million for the creation of a Prostate Cancer Research Endowed Chair for Joshi Alumkal, M.D., a former Kuni Scholar.
“We are grateful for the innovative, life-saving work of OHSU’s tremendous cancer research team,” said Greg Goodwin, Board Chair of the Kuni Foundation. “Through the work of Dr. Brian Druker and his colleagues at the Knight Cancer Institute, OHSU continues to lead the way in providing ground-breaking treatments and cures to individuals throughout the Pacific Northwest and the world. It’s an honor to support efforts that bring hope to so many.”
A Legacy of Mentorship
Founder Wayne Kuni, who died from cancer, was an entrepreneurial community leader known for his mentorship of others. His commitment to investing in emerging talent was inherent in the creation of the Foundation’s Kuni Scholars Program, which supports promising cancer researchers and enables them to pursue new ideas or approaches that might not typically receive funding. Dr. Alumkal, a former Kuni Scholar, has continued his trajectory of innovation and results, and the entrepreneurial way he runs his lab makes the Knight Cancer Institute a standout in the research and treatment of prostate cancer. The Kuni Foundation’s $2.5 million grant for the creation of the Prostate Cancer Research Endowed Chair for Dr. Alumkal underscores the importance of taking a long-term approach when investing in the talent necessary to move the work from research to discovery in the quest to cure cancer.
“This endowed chair is such an honor,” said Alumkal. “The Kuni Foundation and the Kuni family have known me for close to a decade now. I am truly touched that they thought enough of our work to make such a tremendous investment, especially because of all the amazing areas they could have invested in at the Knight Cancer Institute.”
Continuing the Momentum
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. This is true for both men and women, and the numbers are expected to increase in the future.
Building on the momentum of the Knight Cancer Institute’s reputation for results – the National Cancer Center recently honored the Institute with its highest designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – the Kuni Foundation awarded $5 million for the launch of a lung cancer center. The funding will create an Endowed Chair for Lung Cancer Research, enable OHSU to hire additional researchers and support the further development of a vital focus area for the Knight Cancer Institute.
“The opportunity to build a lung cancer center, and recruit an Endowed Chair to lead the program, is a special gift,” said Brian Druker, M.D., Director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “These funds will fast-track our efforts in research and clinical care for patients suffering from lung cancer. We are truly grateful to the Kuni Family and their Foundation for their support of our work at the Knight Cancer Institute, including the recognition of one of our rising stars in the area of prostate cancer, Dr. Joshi Alumkal.”
“We are proud to stand side-by-side with the many organizations, individuals and families who support OHSU’s ground-breaking efforts, making our state a global leader in treating and curing cancer,” said Angela Hult, President of the Kuni Foundation. “Research is the key ingredient to a cure, and with the question mark punctuating the future of National Institute of Health funding in 2018, we need to protect the flourishing ecosystem of science and discovery that in turn enhances the physical, economic and intellectual health of our state and region.”