The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today announced a $10 million gift commitment to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center from Ken and Cheryl Williams of Burlington, N.C. The couple has designated their gift for the Ken and Cheryl Williams Fund for Venture Initiatives at UNC Lineberger, the state’s only public comprehensive cancer center.

Chancellor Carol Folt announces the $10 million gift made by Ken and Cheryl Williams to name the lobby of the NC Cancer Hospital in honor of their son, Tony.

The $10 million commitment will support promising, leading-edge cancer research at UNC Lineberger, enabling the center’s leadership to make timely investments in emerging, high-impact areas of cancer research.

“This tremendous gift will strengthen UNC Lineberger’s pursuit of the most promising areas of cancer research that will save and improve lives in North Carolina and beyond,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “UNC Lineberger faculty and physicians have a great track record of collaborating across disciplines to seek cures for cancer, which is the leading cause of death in North Carolina and the U.S. We are very grateful for Ken and Cheryl’s vision to make this far-reaching gift. Their generosity builds on the continuing strategic investment by the state of North Carolina in this world-renowned cancer center.”

“I want to express my overwhelming appreciation to Ken and Cheryl Williams for their wonderful generosity,” said Ned Sharpless, director of UNC Lineberger. “This is such a monumental gift, and I know that we will one day look back on it as a transformational moment in the history of this cancer center. Ken and Cheryl have placed tremendous faith in UNC Lineberger and the work we’re doing to save lives. Their gift enables us to pursue research paths that we feel have the greatest potential to prevent cancer and benefit patients facing the disease. We are both humbled and energized to meet the challenge.”

Ken and Cheryl Williams have been longtime supporters of the University. Ken received his master’s degree from the School of Public Health (now the Gillings School of Global Public Health) in 1970, and his doctorate in 1976. He served as senior vice president of Quintiles, a contract research company headquartered in Durham, N.C., before retiring. Ken and Cheryl have been active donors and volunteers with the Educational Foundation at Carolina and with UNC Lineberger as members of the board of visitors.

“Cheryl and I believe in the importance of the work that is taking place here at UNC Lineberger,“ said Ken Williams. ”The world-class research, the highest quality patient care – we know we’ve made a very wise investment in an organization that is dedicated to finding cures for this vicious disease. We have a high degree of trust and confidence in Dr. Ned Sharpless and future Lineberger leaders to understand best those emerging research opportunities that can make the greatest impact against cancer. And now, we just hope others will step up to the plate to do what they can to help eradicate cancer by supporting UNC Lineberger.”