Ronnie and Cyndi McNeill – Building a foundation for innovation

Ronnie and Cyndi McNeill of Wilmington are an important part of the history of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Serving on the Board of Visitors since 1996, they have been instrumental in efforts to increase public awareness and advance the mission of the cancer center.

Both Ronnie and Cyndi are driven by a passion for giving back to their state and supporting cancer research.

Cyndi, who lost both of her parents to the disease says, “Cancer affects everyone, and it’s up to all of us to make a difference where we can.”

Ronnie’s perspective as a UNC Lineberger champion is informed by his years of experience in the health care business. He is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Liberty Healthcare Services and also serves on the University of North Carolina – Wilmington Board of Trustees. He says he is “continually amazed at the exciting research going on at the cancer center.Cyndi and Ronnie McNeill

The McNeills have numerous friends and family members who have been patients at UNC Lineberger, and everyone has been impressed by the superb quality of care. “UNC Lineberger provides excellent direct patient care,” says Ronnie. “Over and over again, they demonstrate a combination of expertise with a compassionate, personal touch.”

The quality of care provided along with UNC Lineberger’s reputation as one of the most respected cancer centers in the country inspired the McNeills to make a gift to the cancer center. The UNC Lineberger Seed Grant program offered them the perfect vehicle to support the leading edge research they are passionate about. 

Seed grants are funded by private donors and awarded through a rigorous competitive process administered by UNC Lineberger’s senior leadership. The funding provided by these grants supports novel, early stage research. The Ronald B. and Cynthia J. McNeill Fund for Cancer Research will provide some of the vital funds for young investigators to collect initial data and position them to be more competitive in the quest for larger government and foundation grants. The McNeills say they are very pleased that the Seed Grant program offers a way to leverage their gift into further research grants.

“In today’s competitive funding environment, it’s important to help young scientists get started with innovative research,” says Ronnie. Cyndi shares in Ronnie’s excitement for helping bright, young investigators build a foundation for their promising cancer research saying, “We are hopeful that cures will be found.”

“We are grateful to the McNeills for making such an extraordinary gift,” said Ned Sharpless, MD, UNC Lineberger director. “How the McNeills have structured their gift – providing both endowed and expendable funds – allows the cancer center to dramatically improve our ability to award young scientists larger grants in the future. This then translates into exciting outcomes for our patients as well.” 

The McNeills encourage others to join them in promoting UNC Lineberger across North Carolina and the rest of the country. “We have so many spectacular faculty members,” says Ronnie, “and the care and expertise are the best you’ll find anywhere.” Cyndi says, “We are so proud to support UNC Lineberger, and we look forward to many more years of service.”