Cancer Center Initiative

Who of us, at this stage of life, hasn't been touched by cancer - whether oneself, parent, sibling, spouse, child, relative, classmate or friend.  As an exciting opportunity for our class to support Yale, our 50th Reunion Gift Committee has created the Yale Class of '61 Cancer Center  Initiative.  It will help the Yale Cancer Center (YCC) and Smilow Cancer Hospital to harness an historic confluence of vision, resources and people - to develop novel and significant treatments of this disease.

Directing the distinguished faculty of this center and Physician-in-Chief of the Smilow Cancer Hospital, is Thomas J. Lynch.  A double graduate of Yale twenty years behind us, Y '82, '86 MED, he is a protégé of our classmate, Bruce Chabner, whom he succeeded as Chief of Hematology/Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.  During their joint tenure, that institution rose to rival New York's Sloan-Kettering and Houston's M.D. Anderson.  Recruited in 2009, Thomas now wants to build the equivalent at Yale - to catapult it to the upper echelon of cancer centers worldwide. 

Contributors to the Yale Class of '61 Cancer Center  Initiative will not only enable Yale to help change the cancer treatment paradigm forever, they will also join The Yale '61 Cancer Center Council, to create a permanent connection between our class and the YCC.  As one of several ways our 50th Reunion Gift campaign can support Yale, the initiative is being managed by the small committee of classmates listed below.  At a momentous time in cancer research and treatment, the components include the following.

Personalized Medicine at Yale

In returning to Yale, Tom Lynch will be building on landmark achievements in cancer research and treatment.  It was the first to use chemotherapy to treat cancer patients, and among the first Comprehensive Cancer Centers so designated a by the National Cancer Institute.  Tom plans now to make it a leader in "personalized cancer therapy," to deploy cancer resources in a highly individualized way, one patient at a time.  "Personalized medicine is about getting the right drug to the right patient and designing treatment based on both the patient's underlying characteristics and the tumor's underlying characteristics," he explained.

In his own work, Tom has pioneered the molecular profiling of lung cancer tumors to understand their genetic mutations and develop more effective drugs to shrink the tumors.  His goal is to make molecular profiling standard care at Yale and Smilow Cancer Hospital.  Together, they are one of only a handful of cancer centers offering such individualized diagnosis.  Molecular profiling also sets the stage for researchers and clinicians to collaborate and develop much more effective cancer treatments.

Tom has stated the overarching mission of Yale Cancer Center this way:  "The therapeutics we have in 2009 are not enough.  Though cure rates have improved dramatically for some cancers, success against metastatic breast, colon, lung or prostate cancers has not increased much in four decades.  Yale's primary goal is to pursue curative therapies, so that we may help more patients, regardless of their diagnosis, return to good health."


Smilow Cancer Hospital

Smilow Cancer Hospital provides the very best cancer care available, bringing together some of the nation's best minds to develop new methods to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.  It is a remarkable clinical facility for multi-disciplinary cancer care and the site for Yale's
expanding clinical trials program.  The building is named after Yale alumnus Joel E. Smilow '54, and his wife Joan.

Routine genotyping for 100 mutations in 20 genes to guide real-time treatment decisions for doctors and patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital will begin in 2011.  Within two years Yale will conduct routine whole exome sequencing and intends to expand this to every patient with advanced cancer.  The scientific insights generated by these sequencing programs will provide a basis for research at the Institute for Cancer Biology, allowing Yale researchers to pursue the answers to questions that have the potential to unlock many mysteries within the cancer field.


West Campus - Institute for Cancer Biology

Yale's new frontier in science and medicine is the West Campus.  Housed there will be the Institute for Cancer Biology to bring together in one place more than a dozen research labs focusing on fundamental and translational cancer biology.  'Translational', here, is intended to convey 'therapeutically relevant'.  For example, it is possible to induce lung cancer with specific mutations into mice and then treat them with complex combinations of targeted medications to determine their response to those combinations and the duration of that response.  This would take decades to do from scratch in human trials, yet any such successful and durable combination of targeted chemotherapies for mice has the potential of being much more rapidly tested and applied to humans.

The revolution in genomics, cancer biology and molecular profiling offers more than hope;  it brings a clear roadmap that will lead to unprecedented progress in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer in our lifetime.


Yale Class of '61 Cancer Center Initiative

The Yale Class of '61 has the potential to make a significant, immediate and lasting impact on the success of Yale's cancer program.  The cost of cancer research is tremendous.  In addition to support from private foundations and Governmental agencies, Yale Cancer Center relies on the generosity of individuals to advance the science to improve prevention, earlier detection, and better treatments, leading to the prospect of more people living cancer free.

Members of the Yale Class of '61 are invited to make a difference during their reunion year by making a generous gift or pledge to the Yale Class of '61 Cancer Center Initiative.  Opportunities to support the key goals and objectives of the Yale Cancer Center range from $10,000 to support a pilot research project in a science lab to $3,000,000 to endow a professorship.

The Yale Class of '61 Cancer Initiative will focus on two types of funding:

1.      Unrestricted Funds - funds that Dr. Lynch can use for the highest and best purpose at any given time - like critical funding for a cancer researcher to initiate novel research or a clinical investigator to start a new clinical trial and test the efficacy and safety of new cancer drugs.

2.      Designated Funds - funds that support an area of the donor's choosing - like research in a disease area such as breast, prostate or lung.

It will also establish the Yale '61 Cancer Center Council of Donors.  At least once a year, contributors will convene in New Haven or New York City with the Yale Cancer Center leadership to learn first-hand how their philanthropic funds are being used and about the other exciting developments occurring at the Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital.  During the year, members will also receive regular updates.

To enable Yale to change the cancer treatment paradigm forever, we invite you to to consider carefully what program you might wish to support, by mousing over the Center's case statement:  Yale Cancer Center:  Transforming Cancer Care.  It tells the story, in 15 pages, of the Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, headed by Thomas J. Lynch, protégé of our classmate Bruce Chabner.

A gift or pledge of any amount is welcome.  To learn more contact one of the following:

John de Neufville
, Chairman                <>

Alan Blanchard                                   <>

Ed Cantor                                           <>

Stanley Stillman                                   <>


Yale Class of '61 Cancer Center Initiative:


Yale Cancer Center:  Transforming Cancer Care:


Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital: and


Thomas J. Lynch: and Bruce Chabner: and