THE WALTHER Cancer Foundation, already with a long record of support for cancer research at Indiana University School of Medicine, added to its total in October when it announced $20.5 million in new gifts.
The Indianapolis-based foundation pledged $15 million to establish the Walther Cancer Foundation IU Simon Cancer Center Director’s Fund. The fund will serve as a flexible resource for investments in areas of cancer research and lab improvements the director deems most promising. It was announced on the same day Kelvin Lee, MD, was appointed as the center’s new director.
Walther followed that up the next day with the creation of an $11 million Walther Cancer Foundation Bioinformatics Fund—a gift that will be split evenly between IU School of Medicine and Purdue University’s Center for Cancer Research. The endowment will support a collaborative bioinformatics program that will help researchers at both schools manage and analyze the massive amounts of data generated by cancer research.
Named for 1936 School of Medicine graduate Joseph E. Walther, MD, the Walther Cancer Foundation has invested more than $165 million in cancer-focused research since its founding in 1985—more than $100 million of that directed to IU.
Dean Jay L. Hess said the foundation has been a vital asset in the success of the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“The Walther Cancer Foundation’s generous support has been an essential element in the progress we’ve made in cancer research and in efforts to support the families of cancer patients,” Dean Hess said. “We’re grateful for the confidence Walther has shown in us as we confront cancer in the lab, in the clinic and in our communities.”
Tom Grein, the President and CEO of the Walther Cancer Foundation, said the foundation has traditionally made very specific grants to help early-career researchers spur innovation. The director’s fund was intended to be more flexible and to help attract a world-class leader to the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The bioinformatics fund aims to help scientists dig more deeply and refine their studies to spur innovation. “I hope the data driven analysis will uncover nuggets of opportunity that would otherwise never be seen,” Grein said.