Stephenson Cancer Center Announces Multi-Million Dollar Gift

OKLAHOMA CITY – Stephenson Cancer Center at OU Health announces a transformative $20-million gift from the Stephenson Family Foundation and Peggy and Charles Stephenson, the center’s namesakes and longtime supporters of the University of Oklahoma. The gift to the OU Foundation will expand the research mission of Stephenson Cancer Center.

To extend the impact of the gift, Stephenson Cancer Center is committed to raising an additional $20 million, bringing a total of $40 million to discover new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

“Cancer is a malicious foe,” said Robert Mannel, M.D., director of Stephenson Cancer Center. “One in three women and one in two men in Oklahoma will be diagnosed with cancer during their lives. We are committed to providing tomorrow’s cancer care today through clinical trials, laboratory research and translational research. This gift from the Stephenson family will transform our research efforts.”

The generosity of the Stephenson family will enhance research endeavors in a multitude of ways, including recruitment of new world-class scientists, the creation of five new endowed chairs in cancer research and renovation of laboratory space with innovative features and technology.

The gift also will further Stephenson Cancer Center’s pursuit of Comprehensive Status from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 2018, Stephenson achieved its position as Oklahoma’s only NCI-Designated Cancer Center, representing the top 2% of cancer centers in the United States. Comprehensive Status builds on that distinction with recognition for an added depth and breadth of research, as well as substantial collaboration between scientists across many types of cancers.

“Peggy and Charles Stephenson are longtime generous supporters of the University of Oklahoma, and their latest gift will literally save lives,” said Joseph Harroz Jr., interim president of the University of Oklahoma. “Their generosity will have an amplifying impact on the research mission of Stephenson Cancer Center, creating opportunities for the discovery of breakthroughs in leading-edge cancer therapies. It’s because of the Stephensons and their vision for cancer care in Oklahoma that our state has the resources it does to provide the highest quality care for those afflicted with cancer. We are immensely grateful for their leadership in funding the acceleration of cancer research that will have a profound impact on our state.”

Research plays a crucial role in the mission of Stephenson Cancer Center: to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden of cancer for all Oklahomans. More than 130 Stephenson research members are engaged in more than 250 investigations at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City and on OU’s Norman campus.

Standout areas of research include: cell signaling and the tumor microenvironment; cancer nanomedicine, bioengineering and imaging; cancer chemoprevention; tobacco research; and health disparities. The center is nationally recognized for disease-based research in gynecologic, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers. NCI-Designated Cancer Centers like Stephenson are able to accelerate their pace of discovery, thereby increasing the number of cancer survivors and enhancing their quality of life.

A significant component of Stephenson Cancer Center’s research mission is its clinical trials program. Stephenson is one of 30 Lead Academic Participating Sites in NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). For the past two years, the center has ranked No. 1 among all cancer centers in the nation for the number of patients participating in clinical trials sponsored through NCTN. Stephenson is also home to the Oklahoma TSET Early-Phase Clinical Research Program, which provides access to a large portfolio of novel and targeted experimental therapies. New clinical trials are crucial because they can provide lifesaving treatment while paving the way toward newly approved drugs or new uses for existing drugs.

The Stephenson family has been deeply affected by cancer during their lives. They have transformed those personal experiences into an opportunity for each patient and family at Stephenson Cancer Center to receive the best care available, informed by the latest research discoveries.

“When we had the opportunity to give back in a way that would fight cancer, we knew that’s what we wanted to do,” the Stephensons said. “Our entire family is committed to helping the cancer center continue the pursuit of excellence. Research is crucial in creating more effective treatments for all types of cancers. Research excellence, combined with the care and compassion of everyone who works at the cancer center, is what makes it such a special place. We are grateful to help make a difference.”

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