Cancer Center gets $10M gift

Texas couple’s donation is second-largest to fund

The Kansas University Medical Center and Hospital pictured in the background sits just yards from the state line. The center is feeling the effects of budget reductions.

A $10 million gift to the Kansas University Cancer Center will support a new endowed faculty chair and continues an aggressive effort to help the center achieve National Cancer Institute designation.

Joe and Jean Brandmeyer, of El Paso, Texas, donated the funds, which represent the second-largest individual donation the cancer center has received.

Civic leader and philanthropist Annette Bloch donated $20 million to the center in October 2008 to create the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Care Pavilion in Westwood.

The cancer center has set a date to apply for designation in September 2011, and needs to increase the federal funding it receives from the NCI. One way to accomplish that goal is to attract researchers who already receive NCI funding.

An announcement of a person to occupy the faculty chair position in radiation oncology is expected next month.

A newly formed fundraising council is attempting to raise $92 million for the cancer center, largely in an effort to recruit for 25 new faculty positions. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said the center has to raise about $73 million more to meet its latest goal.

Jensen said the center appreciates the help of its philanthropic partners, including the Brandmeyers, Bloch, Floriene and George Lieberman, the Kansas Masonic Foundation and others who have donated funds.

“The philanthropic community is going to play a key role, and in some ways a deciding role, in this initiative,” he said.

Other major leadership gifts in support of NCI designation so far include $2.3 million from BioMed Valley Corporation, $1 million from the Liebermans and $1 million from the Sunderland Foundation.

Of the 25 new faculty positions desired, three have been filled. The cancer center continues to make headway in its drug delivery efforts, and is enrolling patients in phase one clinical trials to test its Nanotax drug.

Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center, said that recruitment remains the cancer center’s top priority, and gifts like the ones from the Brandmeyers were critical to the overall effort.

“We have a lot more leadership positions to fill,” she said.

The latest goal supplements other efforts supporting the cancer center in the past, like the Masonic Foundation’s $15 million campaign and Bloch’s $20 million gift.