Columbia Sportswear President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Boyle and his wife, Mary, have donated $10 million to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) to recruit and support the next generation of cancer researchers.
The gift will create a mentorship fund honoring Hildegard Lamfrom, Ph.D., the sister of Columbia Sportswear Chairman Gert Boyle and a leading molecular biologist before her death in 1984 at age 62. The Hildegard Lamfrom, Ph.D., Endowed Mentor Fund at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute will ensure the best and brightest graduate students and early career investigators continue to select OHSU, and mentor and support them as they develop new treatments – and ultimately, cures – for cancer.
The Boyles’ gift is the largest private donation received to date in support of the Knight Cancer Challenge, a $1 billion OHSU fundraising campaign to revolutionize early detection and treatment of cancer. More than $310 million has been raised to date.
“My Aunt Hildegard was completely devoted to basic science and pushing its capacity to solve the most complex problems in human health,” said Tim Boyle. “She truly believed that someday, someone would cure cancer. That cure didn’t come soon enough to save her, but she would be the first to want to stimulate the next wave of innovative thinking and research that will create the scientific breakthroughs needed to save millions of other lives.”
During an exceptional career spanning four decades, Lamfrom crossed paths with some of the most noted biomedical researchers of the 20th century, including the team that cracked the DNA code. She broke new ground in her own field of protein synthesis and was a passionate mentor to many renowned scientists.
One of the beneficiaries of her encouragement was a young undergraduate chemist, Brian Druker, who now leads the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Lamfrom’s early mentoring of Druker helped him gain admission to medical school and nurtured his tenacity in pursuing a cure for cancer. Druker, M.D., and his research team made headlines when they created the first targeted treatment that kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The drug Gleevec®, approved for use in 2001, turned a previously lethal cancer – chronic myeloid leukemia – into a manageable disease and paved the way for development of targeted treatments for other types of cancer.
“It is truly inspiring to receive this kind of support for the Knight Cancer Institute from the family of one of my key mentors,” said Druker. “Dr. Lamfrom was not only an outstanding scientist, but a nurturing and trusted advisor who guided me to the field that she knew would allow me to achieve my greatest potential. This gift in her honor is accepted with great responsibility on my part to help achieve a goal we shared – ending cancer as we know it.”
“I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Hildegard Lamfrom than a mentorship program that will cultivate a new generation of scientific minds pushing the boundaries of their field,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., MBA. “On behalf of all of us at OHSU, I thank Tim and Mary Boyle for helping ensure our most promising young cancer scientists will have the support they need to follow Dr. Lamfrom’s inspiring example and make their own lasting marks in advancing human health.”
The gift is the latest act of generosity to OHSU from the Boyle family. In 2010, Gert Boyle and Tim and Mary Boyle donated $2.5 million to create the Hildegard Lamfrom Endowed Chair in Basic Science at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
This second gift will help meet a bold challenge issued to OHSU by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny. The Knights pledged in 2013 to give $500 million to the Knight Cancer Institute if OHSU raised an equal amount by February 2016. Through May 2014, the Knight Cancer Challenge has attracted more than $110 million in gifts and pledges from more than 5,400 donors. The state of Oregon also has agreed to invest an additional $200 million in OHSU facilities needed for the next stage of cancer research and clinical trials.