Stanford shares in $540 million gift from Ludwig Cancer Research

Stanford Report, January 6, 2014

Irving Weissman, director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research and Medicine at Stanford.

The Stanford University School of Medicine has received $90 million from Ludwig Cancer Research on behalf of its founder, Daniel K. Ludwig, to support the school's innovative work in cancer stem cells, which are believed to drive the growth of many cancers.

Stanford is one of six institutions to share in Ludwig's $540 million contribution to the field of cancer research. Announced today, the gift is one of the largest ever made to the field from an individual donor.

The funding will augment the existing endowment for the Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research and Medicine at Stanford, established in 2006, where scientists already have discovered some promising therapies that are moving into clinical trials.

"The gift from Ludwig Cancer Research is truly historic," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "Over the years, Ludwig has been a generous supporter of cancer research, and through its support changed the course of cancer treatment. But this extraordinary gift will spur innovation well into the future.Stanford is distinguished for its cancer research and has assembled a 'dream team' of dedicated scientists at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research and Medicine at Stanford. This gift is a tremendous vote of confidence in the work they and their colleagues at other Ludwig Centers are doing and will provide essential support as they pioneer new treatments and therapies."

The Ludwig gift will complement Stanford's Cancer Initiative, a $250 million effort to advance research and improve patient care, said Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine.

"We are very grateful to Ludwig Cancer Research for this exceptional gift, which will provide momentum for further discoveries in cancer stem cells and spur the development of new therapies," Minor said. "Together with our Cancer Initiative, it represents an opportunity to truly transform cancer research and treatment."

With his latest gift, Ludwig has now committed $150 million to Stanford. The university's Ludwig Center, the only cancer stem cell center of its kind, is directed by Irving Weissman, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research at Stanford.

The first evidence of cancer stem cells was found in acute myeloid leukemia in 1994 by Canadian scientist John Dick. Weissman and his colleagues purified human blood-forming stem cells in 1992 and human leukemia stem cells in 2000 and later identified potential therapeutic targets on them. Since then, Michael Clarke, professor of medicine at Stanford and a Ludwig Center deputy director, isolated cancer stem cells in breast cancer, pancreatic cancers and colorectal cancer, and with Weissman head and neck cancers, bladder cancer, myelomas and other cancers.

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Stanford shares in $540 million gift from Ludwig Cancer Research

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