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Hillman Cancer Center Gala Celebrates Millions Raised for Cancer Research, Prevention and Patient Care

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Wendy Zellner
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PITTSBURGH, Dec. 1, 2010 – Grammy-award winning singer Gladys Knight joined actor and Pittsburgh native David Conrad at the 2010 Hillman Cancer Center Gala last night, celebrating the successful completion of the $200 million campaign for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and UPMC Cancer Centers. The event, Celebrate! A Future Without Cancer, was attended by more than 750 guests and was held at the Monroeville Convention Center.

Thanks in part to a $3 million gift from the Mario Lemieux Foundation, which will be used to establish the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Diseases at the Hillman Cancer Center, the gala celebrated the successful conclusion of the campaign as well as UPCI’s 25th anniversary.

The campaign was launched five years ago with a $20 million gift from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and the Hillman Foundation, which created the Hillman Fellows Program for Innovative Cancer Research. Over the last five years, the campaign established several endowed chairs and endowed funds, including the Arnold Palmer Endowed Chair in Cancer Prevention, the Thomas and Sandra Usher Endowed Chair in Melanoma, the Jane and Carl Citron Chair in Colon Cancer and the Stanley M. Marks, M.D., Endowed Research Fund.  Campaign funds are used to recruit physicians and researchers, invest in infrastructure, and expand key areas of cancer research, including the enhancement of cancer detection, prevention and control activities, the expansion of translational research programs, and the study of cancer and aging.

“The generosity and commitment of our supporters impresses and inspires me,” said Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., director of UPCI and UPMC Cancer Centers. “The gala last evening was a true chance to celebrate the successful completion of the campaign as well as UPCI’s 25th anniversary. We’ve come a long way in terms of cancer research, and with the dedication from our wonderful community, we are well-prepared to continue working toward a cancer-free future.”

Ms. Knight performed a selection of songs for the audience, and David Conrad served as master of ceremonies. Guests enjoyed a dinner prepared by UPMC Catering.

Gala leadership and supporters of UPCI and UPMC Cancer Centers included honorary chairs Henry and Elsie Hillman and Sy and Cathy Holzer; gala chairs Susan and Steve McGalla and Vanessa and David Morehouse; presenting sponsor The PNC Financial Services Group; Stefania and Jeffrey A. Romoff, president and CEO of UPMC; Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Mario and Nathalie Lemieux; Debi and Pete Wheeler; Bonnie and Tom VanKirk; Oxford Development; UPMC Health Plan; Consol Energy Inc.; Equitable Gas Co., and other donors.

About the Hillman Cancer Center

The Hillman Cancer Center is the flagship facility for both UPCI and UPMC Cancer Centers. UPMC Cancer Centers offers cancer patients exceptional care and innovative treatments close to home. Working in tandem with UPCI, the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, UPMC Cancer Centers provides the latest advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment at more than 40 community-based locations throughout the region. UPCI comprises the academic and research activities for cancer at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.