Anonymous $10 Million Gift Stands to Transform Lung Cancer Research

December 7, 2023
Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion

In his more than two decades of helping patients fight lung cancer, Dr. Shirish Gadgeel has seen some incredible strides made in the research and treatment of the devastating disease; much of that transformative progress, he says, has come in recent years.

“It used to be the average survival for Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer was just eight months,” said Dr. Gadgeel, who is Henry Ford’s Division Chief of Hematology and Oncology and Associate Director of Henry Ford Cancer. “Now, because of advances in research and care, some of those same patients will live more than a decade longer.”

That’s why a recent groundbreaking $10 million gift, made generously and anonymously by a Henry Ford Health donor, is giving Dr. Gadgeel an even larger sense of hope for the future of lung cancer treatment—and for a cure. The $10 million gift, which is believed to be the largest one-time gift ever made in the state of Michigan for lung cancer research, will be used to create a “biobank” or “biorepository” at Henry Ford Health that will store collected samples of lung cancer tissue and blood from willing participants. Researchers will then use those samples to study the disease at a molecular level, which can lead to potential breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of patients fighting lung cancer in Michigan and beyond.

“The lung cancer patient population we are privileged to serve at Henry Ford Cancer is one of the most diverse in the country,” explained Dr. Gadgeel. “That means our biobank may also be one of the richest biobanks in the country in terms of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age and gender. To be able to research samples that come from such vastly different people will allow us to better address and solve health inequities and, with any hope, markedly improve cure rates for all. We are so grateful to this anonymous donor for helping us reach these goals.”

This generous gift has also enabled the strategic expansion of Henry Ford’s specialized clinical trials program. These developments are an important part of the health system’s ability to drive innovation for the benefit of patients not only in Michigan, but also around the world. 

“We are creating the next generation of treatments, biomarkers and other tools to best take care of our patients,” said Dr. Steven Kalkanis, Henry Ford Health Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer. “We believe that this gift, coupled with our existing resources including state-of-the-art medicine and world-class physicians and researchers, will allow us to truly integrate clinical care and research to achieve the goal of improving cure rates and finding a cure for lung cancer.”
Dr. Benjamin Movsas, who’s the Medical Director of Henry Ford Cancer and Chair of Radiation Oncology, echoed those sentiments. “This gift will not only be instrumental in helping us develop our lung cancer research program, but will also facilitate and encourage collaborations and enhance our research portfolio—all leading us down the road towards more impactful cancer care and treatments.”

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the country’s second most common cancer in both men and women, and is “by far the leading cause of cancer death in the US, accounting for about 1 in 5 of all cancer deaths.” Lung cancer can occur in people regardless of age or smoking status. 

“We hope this gift becomes a foundation upon which our robust clinical and research programs will build,” Dr. Gadgeel said. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and optimism as we look to define the next generation of lung cancer treatment.”



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