Pope Foundation gives $1.3 million to UNC Lineberger to fight cancer

The John William Pope Foundation has made a $1.3 million gift to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to fund cancer research and treatment.

As one of the leading cancer centers in the United States, UNC Lineberger brings together exceptional physicians and scientists in the country to investigate and improve the prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer.

One million dollars of the Pope Foundation’s gift will fund the creation of the John William Pope Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Research and $300,000 will fund the John William Pope Clinical Fellows Awards Program.

“An endowed professorship is one of the highest academic honors that a university can provide its faculty, allowing them to propel their research, ignite collaborations and support mentorship,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “We are extremely grateful to the John William Pope Foundation for allowing us to bestow this honor to our faculty.”  

“My father was passionate about giving to both cancer treatment and research, and that’s exactly what these gifts do,” said Art Pope, chairman and president of the John William Pope Foundation. “He was very clear that he wanted any investment we made to stay in North Carolina. These are the kind of projects he would have wanted.”

The gift was recently presented at the UNC Lineberger Board of Visitors meeting on April 11, 2014. Read more about the gift on the Pope Foundation website. 

 “We are honored to receive this generous gift from the John William Pope Foundation,” said William Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine, vice chancellor for medical affairs, and chief executive officer of the University of North Carolina Health Care System. “Private funds to support both established faculty and junior researchers are critical as we develop the best and brightest physicians. With this gift, we will continue conducting groundbreaking cancer research and delivering outstanding cancer care in North Carolina.”

UNC Lineberger will nominate Thomas Shea to be the first recipient of the John William Pope Distinguished Professorship.  Appropriately, Shea was one of the late John William Pope’s physicians when he was treated for cancer in 2006 and is an international leader in the care of patients with hematologic malignancies. Shea is the director of the UNC Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program and UNC Lineberger associate director of clinical outreach.

“I am humbled that the Pope family chose to make such a significant gift in my honor and pleased to be considered as the first recipient,” Shea said. “With this new professorship, I hope to expand our research surrounding hematologic malignancies and lay the foundation for continued excellence in our transplant and blood cancer initiatives.”

Read more about Dr. Shea in the Pope Foundation Achiever Spotlight 

The John William Pope Clinical Fellow Awards Program will support annual awards to three outstanding clinical fellows, judged by the faculty on the basis of their extraordinary clinical or translational cancer research during their post-graduate clinical training.

“We wanted to make sure that while we were investing in an established investigator, we were also investing in young investigators,” said Joyce L. Pope, vice president of the John William Pope Foundation.

“This is a seed investment,” said Norman Sharpless, director of UNC Lineberger. “These will be the next great physician-scientists studying cancer, and this program allows us to recognize and foster these talented young people who represent the future of cancer research.”

The John William Pope Foundation, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, works to improve the well-being of the citizens of North Carolina and the nation through the advancement of individual freedom and personal responsibility. From its first grant in 1986 to the present, the Foundation’s giving has totaled over $100 million, particularly to charities and organizations in North Carolina. For more information, please visit www.jwpf.org.

One of only 41 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers, the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center brings together exceptional physicians and scientists in the country to investigate and improve the prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer. With research that spans the spectrum from the laboratory to the bedside to the community, UNC Lineberger faculty work to understand the causes of cancer at the genetic and environmental levels, to conduct groundbreaking laboratory research, and to translate findings into pioneering and innovative clinical trials. For more information, please visit www.unclineberger.org.