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"Cancer research in Indiana would have been pretty sleepy had the Walther Cancer Foundation not existed to enable it to achieve national prominence." ~ Marietta Harrison, Director, Purdue University Oncological Sciences Center
"Without the support of the Walther Cancer Foundation, it is unlikely that the IU Simon Cancer Center would exist in its present form." ~ Patrick Loehrer, Director, IU Simon Cancer Center
"The faculty recruitment programs funded by Walther have been the central piece of building cancer research at Notre Dame." ~ Thomas Burish, Provost, University of Notre Dame
"Following unconventional lines of research requires support from unconventional sponsors. [Walther’s] willingness to sponsor visionary 'out-of-the-box' research has been unparalleled." ~ Don Bergstrom, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Purdue University
"Sustaining great research requires consistent funding. Institutions like the Walther Cancer Foundation have played important roles in supporting high-impact research. Great discoveries today will mean new treatment for cancer tomorrow." ~ Jack Dixon, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Walther Cancer Foundation
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Two Decades of Cancer Impact

Imagining and realizing solutions: Two decades of cancer impact

Many foundations, including ours, ask their grant recipients for periodic reports on outcomes from specific grants.  But after two decades of providing funding for cancer research—primarily through university investigators based in or with ties to Indiana’s leading research universities—we wanted a 30,000-foot view. So we asked some of our grantees to tell us what difference our dollars and their work have made over time. We also asked what’s been successful, what they’d continue and what they’d change. Our board will use the answers to sharpen the Foundation’s grantmaking. These excerpts highlight the work of our grant recipients through the past 20 years.

Building a strong base for cancer research that benefits Indiana and beyond

“Cancer research in Indiana would have been pretty sleepy had the Walther Cancer Foundation not existed to enable it to achieve national prominence.”
~ Marietta Harrison, Director, Purdue University Oncological Sciences Center
 
“Without the support of the Walther Cancer Foundation, it is unlikely that the IU Simon Cancer Center would exist in its present form.”
~Patrick Loehrer, Director, IU Simon Cancer Center
 
“Our senior faculty identify early Walther funding as the initial motivation for encouraging many of our strongest life scientists to focus on cancer research. This has now led to the successful fundraising campaign to build the Harper Hall and the development of the Harper Cancer Research Institute conjunction with Indiana University. Harper Hall will be devoted to collaborative cancer research done by researchers from both universities.”
~Thomas Burish, Provost, University of Notre Dame
 
“The Walther Cancer Foundation has made important and unique contributions to the training of scientists involved in cancer control, to providing critical infrastructure…and collaborative mentoring. Indiana residents have benefited, as well as those in Michigan and Ohio. Patients and family members … have had better quality of cancer care due to Walther’s support.”
~Barbara Given, Associate Dean for Research and Doctoral Programs,
Michigan State University College of Nursing
~Charles Given, Professor of Family Medicine,
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
 
“It is amazing how much has happened. Walther’s impact runs deeper and broader than most of us realize and is destined to last far beyond our lifetimes.”
~ Don Bergstrom, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Purdue University
Helping recruit and retain the best and brightest cancer researchers

“The faculty recruitment programs funded by Walther have been the central piece of building cancer research at Notre Dame.”
~Thomas Burish, Provost, University of Notre Dame
 
“There is no question that support of major faculty recruitment has been Walther’s most effective strategy. Every senior person that we have recruited has been highly successful—some remarkably so. They have provided outstanding leadership in cancer research, in the University, and in the broader scientific community. The impact of Walther Cancer Foundation investments in these individuals has been enormous.”
~Richard Borch, Professor and Department Head,
Purdue Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
 
“Through the years, Walther research grants helped us fund 45 different principal investigators in microbiology/immunology, medicine, biochemistry/molecular biology, medical and molecular genetics, urology and pharmacology/toxicology. These researchers were crucial to our receipt of National Cancer Institute designated cancer center status. These researchers and their students also published thousands of papers in leading scientific journals that have had national and international impact in the basic-science and medical fields. And many have either professorships or leadership roles at the IU Simon Cancer Center and the IU School of Medicine today.”
~Hal Broxmeyer, Mary Margaret Walther Professor Emeritus,
Distinguished Professor of Microbiology/Immunology,
Indiana University School of Medicine
 
“We are in danger of losing the best and the brightest from the state of Indiana to other foundations. By providing start-up packages and opportunities for collaboration, we can, hopefully, establish stronger roots and encourage them to stay here to help develop further trials.”
~Patrick Loehrer, Director, IU Simon Cancer Center
 
“Senior investigators infuse leadership and greatly enhance collaborative efforts within the Purdue Center for Cancer Research. They also enhance our image locally and nationally, which translates into greater acceptance of funding initiatives. Without the funding provided by the Walther Cancer Foundation, [such] recruitment would not have been possible.”
~Tim Ratliff, Director, Purdue University Center for Cancer Research
Helping build collaborative teams and provide the infrastructure needed to advance their work

“In the past few years, Walther’s focus has been on the major universities in Indiana: IU, Purdue and Notre Dame. This is a logical and prudent way of extending limited resources, forming natural collaborative partnerships and potentially leveraging with BioCrossroads. We have outstanding scientists and physician-scientists at all three universities. Walther is uniquely suited to break down traditional silos and bring universities together—something that’s also being encouraged by the National Cancer Institute.”
~Patrick Loehrer, Director, IU Simon Cancer Center
 
“Funding from the Walther Cancer Foundation provided key support when it was critically needed to launch and drive the Cancer Care Engineering project. The project officially launched in 2008 and currently involves more than 60 engineers, scientists, statisticians, computer scientists, clinician scientists, healthcare providers and support staff from Purdue, the IU School of Medicine, the University of Notre Dame, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center.”
~ Marietta Harrison, Director, Purdue University Oncological Sciences Center
 
“My laboratory performs complex cell-sorting experiments, which were not possible with our previous instrument. Having a new cytometer provided the data we needed for recent grant submissions to the National Institutes of Health. This shared resource was also reviewed during our National Cancer Institute site visit in 2009 and received an exemplary rating. All this was made possible by Walther Cancer Foundation support.”
~Tim Ratliff, Director, Purdue University Center for Cancer Research
 
“Walther has been instrumental in giving behavioral oncology a more prominent role at Indiana University, at our sister cancer-care foundations and—most important—among cancer patients and their caregivers. Through its behavioral care focus, Walther has helped us fund dozens of peer-reviewed research projects, underwrite internal and external faculty, provide salary support for young investigators, and ensure that we have infrastructure we could not obtain through other mechanisms. Equally important, Walther’s investment helped us build a multi-state network of universities working on behavioral oncology, and helped us leverage millions of additional dollars for this vital program.”
~Victoria Champion, Executive Associate Dean for Research,
Program Leader for Cancer Prevention and Control,
Indiana University School of Nursing
The importance of flexible funding

“Walther Funds allowed me to pursue innovative projects which would not have been funded by the National Institutes of Health. Walther funding allowed us to discover the function of PTEN, an important … tumor suppressor. This discovery had a major impact on cancer biology and now, many cancer centers across the country are screening for loss of the PTEN tumor suppressor in brain tumors, prostate cancer and other malignancies. In addition, several pharmaceutical firms and biotech companies are developing inhibitors that will aid cancer patients who have lost this tumor suppressor gene.”
~Jack Dixon, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
 
“Following unconventional lines of research requires support from unconventional sponsors. [Walther’s] willingness to sponsor visionary ‘out-of-the-box’ research has been unparalleled.”
~ Don Bergstrom, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Purdue University
The context and need for continued, consistent support

“Sustaining great research requires consistent funding. foundations like the Walther Cancer Foundation have played important roles in supporting high-impact research. Great discoveries today will mean new treatment for cancer tomorrow.”
~Jack Dixon, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
 
“As university budgets and state support continue to shrink in Indiana and throughout the country, support from funding sources external to the university will be essential to maintain a high level of research activity focused in a specific area such as cancer…I would encourage the Walther Cancer Foundation to continue to invest in large-scale, multi-foundational, statewide challenge projects that will make a difference to Hoosiers with cancer.”
~ Marietta Harrison, Director, Purdue University Oncological Sciences Center
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