OHSU Knight Cancer Challenge attracts $100 million gift

07/28/14  Portland, Ore.

Largest private donation to date puts ambitious campaign over $400 million mark in record time

Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute has received a $100 million gift to fuel its ambitious vision to stop cancer in its tracks.

A donor, who wishes to remain unnamed, pledged the funds as part of OHSU’s unprecedented $1 billion campaign to support the Knight Cancer Institute’s initiative to revolutionize the early detection and treatment of cancer. The gift comes less than one year into the two-year fundraising effort. It is the largest private donation to the campaign to date and one of the four largest pledges in OHSU’s history.

“On behalf of everyone at OHSU, I want to express our deep gratitude to this generous and visionary donor, whose request to remain anonymous we gladly honor,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. “Gifts of this size are not made without a great deal of thought, and we embrace the opportunity and responsibility of using this investment to take the next giant leap against cancer. We have the chance to impact the lives of millions of cancer patients and their families, and to do so sooner rather than later.”

The Knight Cancer Challenge was launched in 2013 after Nike Co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, pledged $500 million for cancer research if OHSU raised an equal amount by February 2016.

The $100 million anonymous gift will be used to support a full range of Knight Cancer Institute initiatives, including hiring 20 to 30 top scientists and their teams to collaborate on improving methods to identify cancer at its earliest and most curable stage. The $1 billion investment will enable these scientists to focus on discovery and moving the most promising new detection methods and treatments from the laboratory to clinical trials as quickly as possible.

The early detection initiative builds upon Knight Cancer Institute Director Brian Druker, M.D.,’s pioneering research that changed the direction of cancer treatment from toxic, non-specific chemotherapies to highly targeted drugs that zero in on cancer without harming healthy cells. He spearheaded this paradigm shift by contributing to the development of Gleevec®, a targeted treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia, turning a previously lethal cancer into a manageable disease.

“This gift is a tremendous vote of confidence in OHSU and the Knight Cancer Institute. It will enable us to work even more quickly on what we believe is the single most important unmet need in cancer care today — identifying cancers that will become deadly while they are still at a highly curable stage,” Druker said. “While we clearly have much more to do to reach our goal, a gift of this magnitude is a validation that our vision resonates with those who have a passion for fighting cancer in a completely different way. OHSU will be the place where we will do what others have thought impossible – end cancer as we know it.”

To date, the Knight Cancer Challenge has attracted more than $218 million in donations and pledges from more than 5,800 supporters. The state of Oregon also has agreed to invest $200 million in OHSU facilities needed to support the expansion.

“This generous gift continues the tremendous momentum of this past year, and we hope it will inspire others who care deeply about curing cancer to make their gifts,” said L. Keith Todd, president of the OHSU Foundation. “Thousands of individuals and organizations from throughout the country have participated in the campaign so far, and several organizations are just launching their own efforts to support the challenge. This latest gift energizes us further so we can begin achieving more life-saving wins against cancer as quickly as possible.”

Visit OneDown.org for more information on the Knight Cancer Challenge.


Brian Druker, M.D., is director of the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute, associate dean for oncology in the OHSU School of Medicine, JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research at OHSU and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is a nationally prominent research university and Oregon’s only public academic health center. It serves patients throughout the region with a Level 1 trauma center and nationally recognized Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. OHSU operates dental, medical, nursing and pharmacy schools that rank high both in research funding and in meeting the university’s social mission. OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute helped pioneer personalized medicine through a discovery that identified how to shut down cells that enable cancer to grow without harming healthy ones. OHSU Brain Institute scientists are nationally recognized for discoveries that have led to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke. OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute is a global leader in ophthalmic imaging, and in clinical trials related to eye disease.