Jim and Kay Mann

For Jim and Kay Mann, investing wisely and prudently has always been a way of life. Jim, a self-made successful businessman with a knack for knowing a good deal says UNC Lineberger’s Seed Grant Program that invests in early stage cancer research resonated with him from the start.

Jim has a unique perspective on the challenges of cancer research and treatment. He received his first cancer diagnosis in 1991 when a physical at the Mayo Clinic revealed that he had prostate cancer. He kept returning to the Mayo Clinic for follow-up care and was also treated there for laryngeal cancer that was first diagnosed in 2007.

In 2013, Jim and Kay decided it would make sense for Jim to have a cancer treatment team closer to their home in Pittsboro. When a shadow was found on Jim’s lung last year, his local physician suggested that he go to UNC Lineberger. Kay agreed saying “we have such a wonderful institution here at Lineberger, so why not take advantage of that?”

Jim and Kay Mann
Kay and Jim Mann

Jim came under the care of Dr. Patricia Rivera, co-director of UNC’s Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program and cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Benjamin Haithcock. The Manns felt confident that Lineberger’s multidisciplinary approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment would provide Jim with the best possible care. Now Kay uses the word “family” when she talks about the cancer center saying, “when we first came into the Lineberger family, everyone from the receptionist to the surgeon was just so nice and reassuring. Dr. Rivera was just wonderful. She took so much time with us, and we really appreciated that.”

The Manns are driven by a desire to help others who will come after them. Says Kay, “during his own experience with cancer treatment, Jim started doing what he could to help others in the future. When he was helped by a new surgical procedure, he asked the surgeon to share his surgical notes so that others could benefit from the new procedure as well.”

Jim and Kay learned that the Seed Grant Program supports the advancement of innovative, early-stage ideas in cancer research. The grants are funded through private donations and are awarded through a rigorous competitive process administered by UNC Lineberger senior leadership. The funding provided by these grants offers a way for researchers to collect initial data and position themselves to be more competitive in the quest for larger government and foundation grants. In this way, the Seed Grant Program can leverage donor contributions into hundreds of thousands and, in a few cases, millions of dollars in further research grants.

Jim and Kay decided to earmark their seed grant gift to thoracic cancer research and created The James W. and Kay J. Mann Fund for Thoracic Oncology Research. They will continue to add to the fund in future years. Jim explains, “Anyone who contributes to the seed grant fund will have the personal satisfaction of helping somebody down the road. We do. We feel very fortunate to have that sense of passing it on.”