Winship gets $10M for breast cancer center

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Jan. 17, 2013

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Tom and Lou Glenn with Dr. Walter Curran, Jr. (center), Executive Director, Winship Cancer Institute.

The Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation has made gifts totaling $10 million to Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University to fund a center for breast cancer research and treatment.

These gifts name the Glenn Family Breast Center at Winship and will focus on support for the breast cancer program’s research priorities, including funding for investigator-initiated clinical trials, recruitment, and continued support for Glenn Scholars, a program which awards pilot grants to Winship research scientists engaged in high impact breast cancer research.

"We have experienced the uncertainty of this disease, and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University helped our family fight back with excellent care at the forefront of medical advances," says Lou Glenn, trustee.

"While our gifts target breast cancer, we hope that others will invest in Winship’s research and exceptional care for all types of cancer so many more families can be helped. Just as we benefited from investments made years before we were touched by this disease, we are confident that this investment will help future patients survive and thrive."

The National Cancer Institute estimates that one of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is the most common cancer diagnosed in women. The Glenn Foundation gift will bolster Winship’s cancer biospecimen bank, clinical trials, community access, and a multidisciplinary approach to screening and caring for women at high risk for this disease. One research focus is on better understanding triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that disproportionately affects African American women.

"The Glenn Foundation’s generosity will empower the Glenn Family Breast Center at Winship to benefit generations of families in Atlanta, in Georgia and beyond," says Emory University President James W. Wagner. "Their leadership echoes that of Robert Winship Woodruff, whose philanthropy in honor of his mother’s battle with cancer led to the founding 75 years ago of what became Winship Cancer Institute. We are honored to serve as the destination for patients seeking innovative and individualized cancer treatment."

Annually, Winship serves more than 900 patients with breast cancer through a team approach in which medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists, plastic surgeons, radiologists, nurses, and other experts collaborate to provide the most advanced, individualized care available. Winship is Georgia’s first and only cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute, a status which defines Winship as offering the highest quality cancer care in association with an outstanding research program.

Through Winship’s clinical trials, patients benefit from access to the latest therapies and opportunities to participate in early trials of promising treatments. Winship’s NCI designation, recently renewed in 2012 with an "outstanding" rating, is more than a stamp of approval. The designation has brought Winship, and thereby the state of Georgia, into an exclusive group of nationally recognized cancer centers whose researchers and physicians share one single-minded goal: to eliminate the burden of cancer for all. Nationwide there are only 58 NCI-designated centers treating adult patients with cancer. 

"As Winship’s first named center focused on a specific type of cancer, the Glenn Family Breast Center represents visionary donors who are making a lasting and tangible difference for patients facing breast cancer," says S. Wright Caughman, executive vice president for health affairs, Emory University, chairman, Emory Healthcare, and chief executive officer of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, which includes Winship.

"The Glenn Family Foundation is a valued and critical partner in our mission to fight breast cancer," says Walter J. Curran, Jr., executive director of Winship Cancer Institute.  "This support, along with that of many other donors, underscores that Winship has become a vital hub for innovation and discovery in the encouraging research efforts against all cancers."

The Glenn family was inspired to give by their appreciation for the care Winship provided to a young adult daughter in 2003. In the midst of their concern at having a daughter face cancer at a young age, they were gratified to find a research-based cancer center in Atlanta at the forefront of breast cancer research and treatment.

The Glenn Family Foundation also previously funded an endowed chair in breast cancer research, held by Ruth O’Regan, a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar and an international expert in cancer research.

"We know that each patient represents a wider family circle affected by this disease, and we are honored to have the Glenn Foundation’s support," says O’Regan, who directs Winship’s translational breast cancer research program. "This support enables us to push the boundaries of diagnosis and treatment of this challenging disease."