Early cancer detection's $10 million angel

Internet executive's gift seeds long-term challenge to raise $100 million in support of early detection

The Listwin Family Foundation has made a $10 million commitment to Fred Hutchinson's Early Detection and Intervention Initiative, a new venture to develop tools and technology that will lead to earlier detection of cancer, when it is more easily cured, and better treatments for cancer of all stages.

The initiative includes research to discover molecules in the blood and other body fluids-known as biomarkers-that will lead to early cancer diagnosis and disease intervention, new targeted therapies and cancer-prevention strategies.

Donald J. Listwin, head of the Listwin foundation and president and chief executive officer of Openwave Systems Inc., announced the $10 million gift at the 2003 Hutch Holiday Gala on Dec. 6. It is the single-largest private gift in the center's history. In addition, Listwin's gift attracted another $2.1 million in matching donations from the gala audience (see related article on page 1). Listwin has also committed to lead a $100 million fund-raising effort outside of the center's normal fund-raising activities to support the initiative.

"Biomarkers hold enormous promise for development of new tests to diagnose cancer early when it is more amenable to successful treatment, new tools that can image the site and extent of disease and new treatments that are highly effective and less toxic," said Dr. Lee Hartwell, the center's president and director. "This kind of work holds the greatest hope for major strides in cancer outcomes, and gifts from private foundations and individuals are critical to support early research efforts."

The Early Detection and Intervention Initiative, though new in title, is a natural outgrowth of many of the center's existing research strengths in prevention, early detection and biomarker development, Hartwell said. The initiative is one of several new fund-raising efforts dedicated to supporting all faculty members and their innovative research. Once the technology for biomarker discover is mature, the center will be in a leadership position to exploit the technology to improve cancer outcomes, given our enormous strengths in public health, clin-ical and basic sciences, he said.

"Engineers think there's no problem so big that it can't be solved with the right amount of leadership, intellect and time," said Listwin, an electrical engineer by training. "I'm very excited about Dr. Hartwell's focus on the role technology can play in helping identify and analyze biological clues to cancer."

Fred Hutchinson launched the initiative earlier this year with $3 million in previous donations from the Listwin foundation, $2 million from the Paul G. Allen Foundation for Medical Research, and $1.4 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation. Contributors at the 2002 Hutch Holiday Gala provided $1.3 million in additional funding.

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