CINCINNATI–A $3 million gift from the Anna and Harold W. Huffman Foundation will create an endowed chair and dedicated research program at the Brain Tumor Center
at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute.
Increased research efforts will aim to uncover new treatments for glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain cancer. The invasive brain tumor is often resistant to standard therapy, making it more challenging to treat. For a recurrent tumor, the options are limited.
"We want to make sure that no brain tumor patient needs to leave Cincinnati for care,” said Ronald Warnick, MD, medical director of the UC Brain Tumor Center and the John M. Tew Jr., MD, Chair in Neurosurgical Oncology. "In order to accomplish this, we have to provide high levels of multidisciplinary care, patient education and leading-edge research. This gift will ultimately allow us to translate promising findings from the laboratory into patient therapies.”
In October 2014, the Rev. Dr. Larry Paul "LP” Jones, a trustee of the Anna and Harold W. Huffman Foundation and pastor emeritus of Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church, was diagnosed with glioblastoma.
"While the gift likely won’t help LP, we hope others will benefit,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Turner Jones, LP’s wife and foundation president who serves as Priest-In-Charge at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. "We all hope for a cure. Until then, we hope researchers can find a way for people to live a quality life.”
Two million dollars of the gift will be used to establish The Anna and Harold W. Huffman Endowed Chair in Glioblastoma Experimental Therapeutics. The chair will benefit a proven researcher with funding from the National Institutes of Health who is charged with developing a nationally recognized and funded glioblastoma research program. One of the country’s most respected researchers David Plas, PhD, will be the first chair holder.
"This gift provides our team the freedom to tackle the biggest problems in glioblastoma therapy,” said Plas, who is an associate professor of cancer biology at the UC College of Medicine. "Because of generous donors like the Huffman Foundation, we can pursue the most attractive opportunities that have the potential for being a home run in cancer treatment and care.”
Plas seeks to translate new findings from cancer biology studies into glioblastoma therapies. Research efforts will investigate new targets to help slow the spread of cancer and prevent chemotherapy resistance. He hopes to balance his approach for long-term payoff and near-term success.
"Dr. Plas is the ideal scientist to lead this new program and foster collaborations among researchers at UC and Children’s Hospital,” Warnick said. "This endowed chair clearly demonstrates how partnerships with the community can accelerate cancer research and care in Cincinnati.”
The remaining portion of the gift, or $1 million, will create the Glioblastoma Therapeutics Research Fund to support the research efforts of Plas and his team, providing for staff, equipment and chemical and specimen testing. They aim to partner with academic and pharmaceutical drug development groups to identify and test new treatments.
"This extraordinary gesture shows that our hard work and scientific initiatives are resonating with the public,” said Mario Zuccarello, MD, chairman of the UC Department of Neurosurgery and a member of the UC Brain Tumor Center. "This generous gift will ensure the strength and growth of our subspecialty teams in basic science and translational research.”
Since its 2008 inception, the UC Brain Tumor Center has grown considerably, establishing three endowed chairs including the John M. Tew Jr., MD, Chair in Neurosurgical Oncology, the Harold C. Schott Endowed Brain Tumor Molecular Therapeutics Chair and now the Anna and Harold W. Huffman Endowed Chair in Glioblastoma Experimental Therapeutics. Its research staff has grown from one dedicated researcher in 2008 to seven today.
"The Anna and Harold W. Huffman Foundation has made a tremendous impact on the Greater Cincinnati community,” said Rodney Grabowski, president of the UC Foundation. "This gift will fuel life-changing research at the UC Brain Tumor Center, and the UC community is incredibly grateful for the foundation’s generosity and trust in UC.”