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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

campus academics & research

IU receives 20-million-dollar gift to establish a new cancer research center

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Within the halls of Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, professionals say new opportunities for important research will be available due to a donation that could potentially open new avenues for lung cancer research. The donation is a gift from Julie Wood to honor her late husband Tom Wood, who was a popular Indianapolis auto executive and Western Michigan University alumni. Wood passed away in 2010 from lung cancer and was a frequent donor to  IU cancer research.

The groundbreaking 20-million-dollar donation will create the new Tom and Julie Wood Center for Lung Cancer Research, opening new avenues for lung cancer research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. The money will be distributed with 11 million dollars going to lung cancer research, seven million dollars to support recruitment of additional cancer researchers and two million dollars to support “End Lung Cancer Now,” an Indiana advocacy initiative to spread awareness about lung cancer.  

This donation will be transformative in providing funding for future cancer research at IU, but that does not eliminate the many challenges professionals face in their fight as it relates to lung cancer. The reality remains: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, and one in 16 people will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime, according to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation.

According to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, around 238,340 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer every year, and 127,070 Americans die from lung cancer each year. The leading cause of lung cancer is smoking, making up almost 80% of all diagnoses. One of the most dangerous factors of lung cancer is the stigma surrounding it.  

John Turchi, a doctor at the research center, said since most people with lung cancer are smokers, many do not receive proper screenings or seek out care from fear of being labeled a “smoker.” 

With this donation, the dream of eliminating and treating lung cancer becomes closer. Turchi said the gift will allow researchers to embark on more advanced methods of care.  

"The center gives us the capacity and the ability to do those kind of high-risk experiments that have the potential for really high reward," he said.  

Nasser Hanna, who specializes in cancer research at IU, said the pivotal element of the Wood Family Foundation's gift is the doctors it will bring together. 

"The most important aspect is that it provides us resources to recruit researchers and to conduct high-level scientific experiments,” Hanna said. 

Both doctors view the donation as something that could create new methods in the fight against cancer. With the support of The Wood Family Foundation, researchers will have greater resources to continue the fight against lung cancer and provide hope to those struggling. 

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