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Couple with Oregon ties creates $5 million scholars fund for cancer research

Pat and Stephanie Kilkenny establish fund within the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU to honor three distinguished mentors, support graduate student research

A $5 million gift to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University will establish a cancer scholars program to support and mentor exceptional OHSU Ph.D. candidates.

Pat and Stephanie Kilkenny of San Diego, Calif., have created the Frohnmayer Hicks Sciarretta Research Scholars Program to honor the memory of three men who were central in their lives: John Hicks, Stephanie Kilkenny’s father; Dave Frohnmayer, former Oregon attorney general and University of Oregon president; and Mark Sciarretta, a friend and former colleague of Pat Kilkenny.

“My father was a successful attorney and businessman, but his true passion was serving his community and his country in a multitude of ways, and cancer took him too early,” said Stephanie Kilkenny. “I believe he would be honored to know that one of his legacies is to help support bright young researchers who have the potential to help end cancer once and for all.”

“Dave Frohnmayer and Mark Sciarretta were close friends and colleagues of mine who had a deep commitment to improving health care and outcomes, and who both died of cancer much too young,” said Pat Kilkenny. “I am very hopeful that the scholars program named in their honor will help foster innovative new approaches to detecting and treating cancer so that future generations will be spared lives cut short by this disease.”

The Frohnmayer Hicks Sciarretta Cancer Research Scholars Program is a permanent endowment within the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to support top Ph.D., or doctoral, students in key cancer-related fields such as biology, informatics and imaging. As part of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s focus on improving the precision early detection of lethal cancers, it is expanding its capability to identify the biological drivers of the disease. Doctoral students accepted into the new scholars program will help expand the institute’s capabilities while learning alongside distinguished scientists.

Pat Kilkenny spent most of his career in the insurance industry, most prominently as the owner of Arrowhead General Insurance Agency, which he sold in 2006. Pat and Stephanie Kilkenny founded and lead the Lucky Duck Foundation, which is committed to improving communities through the leadership and actions of volunteers.

Students recruited to the Frohnmayer Hicks Sciarretta Research Scholars Program are expected to complement the Knight Cancer Institute’s early cancer detection program. The Kilkennys’ funding pledge was made during the Knight Cancer Challenge, a $1 billion campaign completed in June 2015 to support the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s groundbreaking work in precision cancer medicine.

About the Knight Cancer Institute

The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health &Science University is a pioneer in the field of precision cancer medicine. The institute's director, Brian Druker, M.D., helped prove it was possible to shut down just the cells that enable cancer to grow. This breakthrough has made once-fatal forms of the disease manageable and transformed how cancer is treated. The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center between Sacramento and Seattle –an honor earned only by the nation's top cancer centers. It is headquarters for one of the National Cancer Institute's largest research collaboratives, SWOG, in addition to offering the latest treatments and technologies as well as hundreds of research studies and clinical trials. For additional information on the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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