$150,000 Gift from the Smith Family Helps Accelerate Early Detection Research
The Lester and Bernice Smith Foundation honors a friend while enabling the Rivkin Center to launch new ovarian cancer research grant.
Lester, Bernice and Alex Smith made a significant gift through their family foundation to support ovarian cancer research.
The Smiths made their gift in honor of friend Lisa Ryan Thompson.
With a generous underwriting gift from the Lester and Bernice Smith Foundation, the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research has announced a new $150,000 Scientific Challenge Grant focused on early detection of ovarian cancer. This first-ever offered, two-year pilot study award will be focused specifically on increasing understanding of the cellular, molecular, and genetic origins of ovarian cancer.
"Little is known about the earliest changes in normal cells that lead them to become cancerous," explains Saul E. Rivkin, M.D., medical oncologist at Swedish and founder of the Rivkin Center. "For a long time it was assumed that ovarian cancer cells came from cells in the ovaries, but we now know that ovarian cancer can arise from cells found in the fallopian tubes. Knowing more about what cells in the body contribute to the disease will really help to hone in on new targets for early detection."
Early detection is not just important for catching ovarian cancer at a stage when it is more treatable; eventually, such research can lead to methods of prevention, as was the case with cervical cancer. Research performed on patients during the earliest stages of cervical cancer resulted in the identification of a specific virus in over 50 percent of the cases. That breakthrough discovery led to the development of a vaccine which is now used to prevent cervical cancer.
"We are eager to help fill a deficit in this fundamental area in research," says Alex Smith, president of the Lester and Bernice Smith Foundation. "There is a lack of funding towards the basic understanding of ovarian cancer and it is our hope that this will stimulate and bolster early detection research."
"Our family is continually inspired by the work of the Rivkin Center and by the many individuals in our community that help make the Center's mission possible," says Smith. The Rivkin Center's mission became especially personal to the Smith family in 2010 with the loss of a friend, Lisa Ryan Thompson, to ovarian cancer. "Lisa showed us all what it meant to be a true champion to the cause. Her passion, her dedication, and her plight motivated us to do more. It is in her loving memory that our family dedicates this gift."
"The compassion and leadership of the Smith family is a wonderful example of the type of advocacy that will undoubtedly make a difference for women facing ovarian cancer in the future," says Dr. Rivkin. "In our sincere appreciation, we are delighted to recognize the winner of the new Scientific Challenge Grant as the Lester and Bernice Smith Fellow."
Announcement of the Lester and Bernice Smith Fellow and recipient of the Scientific Challenge Grant will be in July 2011. Visit the Rivkin Center website at www.rivkin.org to learn more, or contact us directly at (206) 215-6200.