The Knight Cancer Challenge

Phil Knight, Brian Druker and Penny Knight

OHSU Extra, Winter 2014

OHSU and the Knight Cancer Institute are launching an unprecedented campaign, the OHSU Knight Cancer Challenge, to make the greatest possible impact on cancer in the shortest amount of time. To change the game in cancer, we need to detect the disease at its earliest stages before it becomes lethal.

Developing next-generation tests and technologies required for early detection and targeted treatment will revolutionize cancer care and will fill the single largest unmet need as we strive to save lives and spare patients from unnecessary treatment. Cancer is a more vulnerable foe when it is caught in its earliest stages. There is no better proof than the Pap test, which has helped cut the death rate from cervical cancer dramatically. But other widely used tests do not measure up – and in some cases lead to decisions that cause harm. When screening leads to overly harsh treatments for cancers that don’t pose a lethal risk, patients suffer needlessly. When tests fail to reveal what’s causing a tumor to grow, physicians lack the information they need to determine the best course of treatment. OHSU will change the game by developing targeted tests that lead to better, earlier treatments and reveal important details about cancer at the molecular level. To do this, the Knight Cancer Institute will build a team of the best minds in cancer research, focus them on the greatest opportunities for discovery, and empower them to pursue bold ideas.

This vision for a quick and decisive end to cancer has inspired a landmark philanthropic commitment that will accelerate the pace toward a cure. Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, have pledged to donate $500 million upon the completion of a campaign to raise $500 million for cancer care and research at OHSU by February 4, 2016. With your help, OHSU will reach this goal and save lives around the world. Here are the key details at a glance.


Meeting the Challenge


WHO? You!

Everyone can play a role in defeating cancer.

Whether you are a patient, know a patient, take care of a patient, or want to honor the memory of a patient, you are part of the Knight Cancer Challenge.


WHAT?  We will stop cancer.

Imagine an end to cancer as we know it.

The ultimate goal is to make cancer a manageable disease – giving patients the ability to control cancer and live a normal life. To meet that goal will require a new generation of simple, noninvasive cancer tests that can detect cancer at its earliest stages, before it gains a foothold in the body. These tests will determine the biological triggers of the disease so it can be stopped.


HOW?  Brains and Focus.

A dedicated scientific force. One place. Zero distractions.

The greatest innovations in modern history have come about when exceptional people join forces in one place to pursue a common goal. The Knight Cancer Institute will assemble a dedicated force of 20 to 30 highly distinguished scientists and their research teams who will lead the charge. Adequate funding will make it unnecessary for these visionary leaders to spend time and energy raising and managing research grants, freeing them to explore bold ideas and take risks that would otherwise be impossible.


WHERE? Here.

When great minds come to OHSU, they go farther.

OHSU is where visionaries like Brian Druker, M.D., come to do work they could not do anywhere else. OHSU is where industry leaders like Intel and FEI come to collaborate on the technologies of the future. OHSU is home to the remarkable people behind inventions like the artificial heart valve, targeted cancer therapies, and the most promising recent breakthroughs in AIDS vaccine research and stem cell production. Pioneers have shaped the history of Oregon and of OHSU, and the pioneers who join this cancer team will shape the future.


WHEN? Now.

Every moment counts, and every gift matters.

A world of new possibilities in the fight against cancer is at our doorstep, but the clock is ticking. Every moment counts between now and February 4, 2016, if we expect to raise at least $500 million. With a challenge of that scale, each and every gift counts. The goal is not merely to hit the target but to surpass it, and to do so as soon as possible in order to begin the real challenge – saving lives through targeted early cancer detection and treatment.