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$5 million gift from John Gray advances melanoma research at OHSU

Longtime Oregon business leader and philanthropist John Gray has made a $5 million philanthropic investment that will advance melanoma research and clinical care at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. By supporting the institute’s search for new molecularly targeted melanoma therapies, the commitment reinforces OHSU’s pioneering role and ongoing leadership in the arena of personalized cancer medicine. Melanoma is regarded as the most dangerous form of skin cancer because of its ability to spread to other parts of the body.

“Oregonians can be proud of the caliber of the research taking place at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. I’m confident that this gift will bring them closer to bringing melanoma under control once and for all,” Gray said.

The philanthropic investment will establish the John Gray Endowed Chair of Cancer Research within the Knight, support a long-term expansion of OHSU’s registry of medical and biological data from melanoma patients, and fund melanoma-focused research projects.

OHSU will seek a physician-scientist of international stature to serve as the John Gray Chair, said Knight Cancer Institute Director Brian Druker, M.D. The chair will lead an interdisciplinary team of basic scientists, clinical researchers, genetics experts, physicians and surgeons focused on finding molecular defects that drive the growth of melanoma. Their goal is to advance the search for new therapies that target those abnormalities in the same way that the groundbreaking OHSU-developed drug Gleevec repairs the defects that cause chronic myeloid leukemia.

An expanded melanoma component within the Knight Cancer Institute’s exclusive Personalized Cancer Medicine Registry will also serve as a powerful attractant to exceptional prospective chairs, providing one of the nation’s largest and best-organized databases of melanoma tumor genetics and patient information. The registry’s growth is expected to increase OHSU’s participation in major national clinical trials of promising new melanoma drugs developed here or at other institutions. Access to this information enables oncologists to match more melanoma patients with drugs or clinical trials appropriate for their particular type of tumor.

“John Gray’s partnership will enable the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to deliver better care to Oregon melanoma patients while creating new standards of care for the disease that benefit patients everywhere,” Druker said. “We are profoundly grateful for his vision and confidence.”

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