June 7-20, 2002
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Goodwins fund new Cancer Center trials

William and Alice Goodwin Staff report

Cancers of the pancreas, head and neck, brain, and lungs are among the most deadly forms of the disease, and there are currently few options for treatment. With a new $6 million gift to the U.Va. Cancer Center, medical researchers will accelerate clinical trials of promising new therapies for these cancers, offering hope to millions of patients and their families.

The contribution from Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. of Richmond will be provided in annual installments of $750,000 over the next eight years. It follows a $3.9 million gift made by the Goodwins last fall to further clinical trials of promising new vaccines for melanoma and other types of cancer.

“Alice and Bill Goodwin’s continuing investment in the Cancer Center will bolster its capacity to translate research breakthroughs in the laboratory into effective treatments at the bedside,” said U.Va. President John T. Casteen III. “The Goodwins’ new commitment will allow us to expand clinical trials that build on the discoveries of our medical scientists and that will be of enormous benefit to patients from Virginia and beyond.”

The Cancer Center’s Clinical Trials Office currently manages more than 80 clinical trials involving as many as 300 patients a year. As the trials become more sophisticated, the office is nearing capacity, forcing the testing of new therapies to be postponed. The Goodwins’ gift will allow the University to hire additional nurses and other personnel with experience in managing clinical trials, which will enable U.Va. to expand the number and types of treatments available to patients.

“These resources will be tremendously helpful in speeding the movement of new discoveries into new therapies,” said Michael Weber, director of the Cancer Center.

“Seventy-five percent of childhood cancers are now curable through treatments refined by clinical trials. And clinical trials have led to major advances in the treatment of melanoma and cancers of the breast, cervix, uterus, ovary, prostate and bladder. The mission of an academic medical center is to create leading-edge therapies and to bring them to our patients. Clinical trials are the only way this can be done.”

Goodwin, a member of U.Va.’s Board of Visitors since 1996 and a 1966 graduate of the Darden School, is chair of CCA Industries Inc. in Richmond.

The Goodwins, among the Darden School’s most generous benefactors in the University’s recent fund-raising campaign and known for their philanthropic endeavors across Virginia, have established the Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research to foster new breakthroughs in the battle against the disease. In addition to their gift to the Cancer Center, the new Foundation also has made significant gifts to several other prominent cancer centers across the U.S.

“We are glad our continuing support will help U.Va. advance new cures and treatments for cancer,” Bill Goodwin said. “We have great faith in the University’s doctors and researchers and are proud to help further their work.”

“Finding effective strategies to fight cancer is the goal of all involved. We are glad we have the resources to help,” said Alice Goodwin.

The Goodwins’ gift will support clinical trials of new treatments for the following types of cancer:

Pancreatic cancer - Dr. Michael Williams heads a team that will refine a new regimen of chemotherapy designed to treat the late State Sen. Emily Couric. The therapy, which helped Couric live longer than expected, will be tested for safety and effectiveness.

Brain cancer - Meningiomas, the most common brain tumors, are curable surgically when the location and the shape of the tumor allow complete removal. Tumors that cannot be completely removed are devastating. Due to what medical scientists call the blood/brain barrier, chemotherapy is not an effective treatment for brain cancers. Dr. David Schiff will work to change the chemistry of an existing chemotherapy agent so that it bypasses the blood/brain barrier and, it is hoped, blocks tumor growth and starves the tumor of the blood flow it needs to survive.

Head and neck cancers - The standard treatment for head and neck cancers is a combination of radiation and chemotherapy given concurrently. However, radiation administered to the head and neck area is disfiguring and can cause damage to healthy tissues and to other areas such as the eye, spinal cord and brain stem. In a new clinical trial headed by Dr. Christopher Thomas, investigators hope to use new intensity-modulated radiation therapy to deliver maximum dosages of radiation to cancerous cells in this area while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

Breast cancer - Breast cancer therapy has undergone substantial improvements in recent years with surgical care moving toward less invasive methods. Dr. Reid Adams hopes to develop non-invasive technologies to fight breast cancer. Reviving and improving upon an existing technology, his research team will determine if high-energy radio waves can be used surgically to destroy tumors.

Lung cancer - The chemotherapy agent known as ST1571, or Gleevec, has gained prominence as a treatment for some forms of leukemia. Now, to combat lung cancer, U.Va. researchers led by Dr. Heidi Gillenwater intend to pair Gleevec with a chemotherapy agent discovered and developed by Sidney Hecht, U.Va.’s John W. Mallet Professor of Chemistry. The first round of chemotherapy is highly effective in fighting certain forms of lung cancer, but in subsequent treatments, cancer cells become less susceptible to the drugs’ killing effects.

The U.Va. researchers hope to combine the two chemotherapy agents and modify them so that they continue to destroy cancer cells effectively as treatments continue.



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