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World-Renowned Physician, Scientist Tapped For OHSU Cancer Institute Endowed Chair For Prostate Cancer Research

A new Grover C. Bagby Endowed Chair, named for the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute founder has been established to further prostate cancer research. The chair has been awarded to Tomasz M. Beer, M.D., director of the Prostate Cancer Program. Beer has developed one of the most robust prostate cancer programs in the United States.

Two years ago, Karen and Bill Early and Sally and Cecil Drinkward, generously pledged $1.2 million to help establish an endowed chair for one of OHSU Cancer Institute’s most dynamic areas of research: prostate cancer. In making their pledge, they issued a challenge to others to raise the remaining $1.3 million to complete this $2.5 million chair.

Brian Booth, a founding partner of Tonkon Torp, LLP, and Eric Parsons, president and CEO of Standard Insurance Company and StanCorp Financial Group, Inc., co-chaired the fund raising campaign for the endowed chair.

“After learning about the work done by the cancer staff there, Karen and I were interested in supporting cutting-edge research that would impact people’s lives such as Dr. Beer is involved in,” Bill Early said.

Although this gift was given personally, Early is a retired senior vice-president of JELD-WEN, a Klamath Falls-based company that has funded an endowed chair for Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Cancer Institute.

Cecil Drinkward said, “We just felt that it was important to get more emphasis for prostate cancer research.” He is co-chairman of Hoffman Corporation.

Ann Abernathy and her husband, Bill McClelland know firsthand about prostate cancer research. McClelland has been a participant in one of Beer’s clinical trials and is his patient.

“Tomasz Beer is a Renaissance man. He is extremely knowledgeable in all arenas. When I went in to see him I felt I was talking and listening to a fellow at the forefront of prostate cancer research. He is so good as a doctor and scientist that when they proposed an endowed chair I thought it was and it is worthwhile to contribute to it,” McClelland said.

The individual faculty members who occupy an endowed chair are carefully chosen based upon a worldwide recognition of the individual’s academic achievement and leadership in a chosen field.

Beer said: “The endowed chair will provide stable support to enable critically important activities including program leadership and investment in program growth, collaborations with partners throughout the state and the nation, new, cutting edge projects that require initial testing before grant funding can be pursued.

“People with cancer will benefit because our program will continue to expand and grow with stable leadership. Oregonians with prostate cancer can expect more innovations as a result.”

Beer is a member of several professional societies, including the American College of Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research and Southwest Oncology Group. He has also authored and co-authored more than 150 articles and abstracts on prostate cancer, and is actively investigating a broad range of new treatments for prostate cancer.

The chair was named for Bagby who founded the OHSU Cancer Institute and led its growth for 15 years. He retired recently as director to focus on research and teaching.  

The OHSU Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center between Sacramento and Seattle. It comprises some 120 clinical researchers, basic scientists and population scientists who work together to translate scientific discoveries into longer and better lives for Oregon's cancer patients. In the lab, basic scientists examine cancer cells and normal cells to uncover molecular abnormalities that cause the disease. This basic science informs more than 200 clinical trials conducted at the OHSU Cancer Institute.

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