Canary Foundation pledges to team with cancer center

The Canary Foundation of San Jose has pledged $7.5 million to the Stanford Comprehensive Cancer Center, and it will team with the Department of Radiology to create a Center of Excellence for Cancer Early Detection.

The foundation's agreement with the radiology department, which is contributing $4 million to the effort, formalizes a joint interest in using molecular diagnostics to identify cancer at the earliest, most treatable stage.

Beverly Mitchell, MD, deputy director of the cancer center, said the School of Medicine had received smaller gifts from the Canary Foundation for early detection research. 'This significant donation will allow even more emphasis on this important area of cancer research with an initial focus on ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer,' she said.

Don Listwin, founder of the Canary Foundation, announced the gift on May 22 at a reception held during the organization's third annual National Early Detection Initiative Stakeholders Symposium at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center.

Of the $7.5 million gift, $4 million will go to the radiology department to fund the new center of excellence. That money will be allocated by a board consisting of Mitchell, Listwin, Gary Glazer, MD, chair of radiology, and Sanjiv Gambhir, MD, PhD, professor of radiology, who will serve as head of the new center.

The remaining money will fund research by Gambhir and Patrick Brown, MD, PhD, developing technology with promise for quickly and accurately screening large numbers of blood-based markers for a potential link to cancer. Additional funding will go to James Brooks, MD, whose research involves new ways of detecting and treating prostate cancer, and Simon Fredriksson, PhD, who is working on high throughput ways of screening blood samples for cancer markers.

The foundation is dedicated to finding blood tests that detect cancer at its earliest and most curable stages. Blood-based tests are available for prostate, ovarian and breast cancers, but those markers aren't very reliable. They often predict the presence of cancer when none exists, or don't detect it in people who do have cancer.

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