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Presbyterian Health Foundation awards $360K to fund American Cancer Society grant at OU Health

The Presbyterian Health Foundation (PHF) has awarded $360K to the American Cancer Society’s three-year Institutional Research Block Grant (IRG) for the OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma’s only NCI-designated cancer center.

Pictured left to right: Michelle Fair, Senior Philanthropy Director, American Cancer Society, Rick McCune, President, PHF, Robert Mannel, MD, Director of Stephenson Cancer Center, Erin Collier, Associate Director, Cancer Center Partnerships, American Cancer Society, and Tom R. Gray, III, Chairman, PHF

This IRG will provide critical seed money for independent investigators and junior faculty to initiate cancer research projects at Stephenson Cancer Center, so they can obtain preliminary results that will enable them to compete successfully for national research grants. PHF’s funding will provide these scientists with the opportunity to build a foundation of data that will position them to qualify for larger, renewable and career-sustaining federal grants.

“We can’t move fast enough towards better, more effective treatments for all types of cancer,” said PHF President Rick McCune. “These funds will accelerate innovations to fight this debilitating disease, providing young scientists with a runway to secure even larger national awards and acknowledgements. We are proud to support this incredibly important work happening on the Oklahoma Health Center campus.”

Cancer breakthroughs often begin decades prior to discovery. In Oklahoma this year, more than 23,000 people will hear the words "you have cancer,” and approximately 8,660 Oklahomans will lose their battle with the disease. Even though dramatic strides have been made in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, the scarcity of research funding continues to be the most significant barrier to finding solutions to cancer. This grant will help to fill that gap in Oklahoma.

“Having an ACS IRG awarded to SCC is foundational to our success as a cancer center. The Stephenson Cancer Center has made recruiting and supporting early-stage investigators a priority and this grant mechanism is critical for supporting their efforts to establish well-funded research programs.” Said Dr. Robert Mannel, Director of the Stephenson Cancer Center. “The willingness of the PHF to support this program speaks volumes about their commitment to fostering an environment of successful research on the OU Health Sciences campus and is greatly appreciated.”

To propel the program even further, SCC has committed a grant match of $180,000. This partnership program will advance efforts to answer cancer's most challenging questions so that innovative discoveries are brought to cancer patients faster.

“For more than 75 years, the American Cancer Society has invested more than $5 billion in cancer research. Our research funding strategy has helped support numerous important discoveries and some of the brightest researchers, including 50 Nobel Prize winners to date. Many of these were funded early in their career, which means we saw the promise of their research well before they achieved acclaim,” stated Jeff Fehlis, Executive Vice President for the American Cancer Society South Region. “We’re grateful for the generous contribution Presbyterian Health Foundation is making to support ongoing research, specifically to provide the critical seed money to help young investigators get started in their career.”


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