The Oregon Community Foundation’s John and Robin Jaqua Fund creates $5 million endowment to benefit OHSU’s Knight Cancer Challenge

10/21/14  Portland, Ore.

Gift will support promising cancer research projects at Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute to advance early detection and treatment of the disease

The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) has created a $5 million fund to support the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and its ambitious effort to transform cancer detection and treatment with the $1 billion Knight Cancer Challenge.

The Knight Cancer Institute Fund was established with a gift from the John and Robin Jaqua Fund at The Oregon Community Foundation. The gift from the Jaqua Fund creates a permanent endowment at OCF that will continue to grow and provide resources to OHSU over time. Distributions from the fund will support promising projects designated by the director of the Knight Cancer Institute.

John Jaqua, who died in 2009, was a prominent Eugene attorney, philanthropist and longtime board member of Nike Inc. Nike Co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, announced in September 2013 that they would donate $500 million to support efforts by the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to revolutionize the early detection of cancer if an equal amount could be raised by February 2016.

“This new fund honors the long and trusting relationship between John and Robin Jaqua and Phil and Penny Knight,” said Max Williams, president and CEO of The Oregon Community Foundation. “It’s a pleasure to be able to share a gift that is such a natural extension of the Jaquas’ lifetime of philanthropy and dedication to improving the health and livability of their community and our state.”

The Knight Cancer Challenge campaign will support the recruitment of about 200 to 300 top researchers and clinicians. The researchers focused on early cancer detection will be led by about 20 to 30 of the world’s leaders in the field. This team will be provided with sufficient funding to free them from administrative duties so they can devote their time to innovation.

The Jaqua Fund gift to the Knight Cancer Challenge is one of several gifts to come from OCF. The OCF board of directors in November 2013 announced a $1 million grant to the challenge, which was the largest discretionary grant issued in the organization’s 40-year history.

“We are grateful to The Oregon Community Foundation for entrusting OHSU and the Knight Cancer Institute with the additional resources to address what we believe is the largest unmet need in cancer care today,” said Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “We are determined to stop cancer before it has the chance to turn lethal. This fund, in particular, will enable us to ensure that the most promising research projects can move forward. ”

The Knight Cancer Challenge has raised more than $440 million to date. The establishment of the new OCF Knight Cancer Institute Fund is one of 36 donations of $1 million or more during the campaign.

About the Knight Cancer Institute

The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University is a pioneer in the field of personalized cancer medicine. The institute's director, Brian Druker, M.D., helped prove it was possible to shut down cells that enable cancer to grow without harming healthy cells. This breakthrough has made once-fatal forms of the disease manageable and ushered in a new generation of targeted cancer therapies. The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center between Sacramento and Seattle – an honor earned only by the nation's top cancer centers. It offers the latest treatments and technologies as well as hundreds of research studies and clinical trials.

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.