The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS), the largest nonprofit funder of leading-edge research for every type of blood cancer to improve treatment options for patients, today announced it has received $17 million from the Mike and Sofia Segal Family Foundation to advance the treatment of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), a rare type of blood cancer.
The $17 million commitment is the largest-ever outright gift from an individual donor that LLS has received and brings attention to the remarkable power of transformative giving.
CMML impacts approximately 1,100 people in the U.S. each year and in most cases cannot be cured. This generous gift will fund research to accelerate the development of new treatments for those diagnosed with this rare disease.
Mike Segal and his wife, Sofia, emigrated from present-day Ukraine to the U.S. in 1978 with 120 dollars, a four-year-old child, and two suitcases. In 1990, after working in the power industry, Mike went on to found LS Power, which began as a two-person start-up and has since become one of the largest private owners of power generation, electric transmission, and renewable energy infrastructure in the country and a leader in the energy transition. Mike and Sofia Segal established their family foundation to support overlooked and underfunded causes and were inspired to make this gift by the experience of a family member with CMML and the dearth of funding for related research.
“We partnered with LLS in the hopes of stimulating research and developing treatments for this devastating disease, which has impacted our family and thousands of others,” said Mike Segal. “LLS’ expertise in evaluating and supporting innovative research, combined with our entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy, is the perfect combination to rapidly address the lack of treatment options in this area. We have worked closely together to design a high-impact grant program that we hope will lead to breakthroughs in the near term and this is just the beginning. Our foundation is now exploring similar potential initiatives focused on other rare diseases.”
“Blood cancers are diverse – there are more than 100 types of blood cancer with varied treatment options – so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all approach,'” said E. Anders Kolb, M.D., LLS President and Chief Executive Officer. “At LLS, we strive to build a future where blood cancer patients can have longer, better lives. Having such a generous donation from the Mike and Sofia Segal Family Foundation is truly a gift, not just for LLS, but for those who have and will be impacted by CMML. Mike and Sofia Segal will leave a lasting mark when it comes to accelerating progress in CMML.”
The existing chemotherapies for CMML typically provide only partial responses for a limited duration. Currently, the only curative option is a stem cell transplant but it is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, which is not an option for many CMML patients. Average life expectancy after initial diagnosis ranges from a few months to a few years depending on various risk factors. CMML progresses to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in approximately 15 percent of patients over three to five years.
In addition to funding cutting-edge research, LLS is the leading source of free education and support for blood cancer patients and families. LLS provides personalized, one-on-one support, including assistance with identifying and enrolling in a clinical trial, and advocates on behalf of—and with—blood cancer patients and their families, to make changes that will address the serious burdens of these diseases. To learn more about blood cancer or to donate, fundraise, or volunteer for LLS, please visit LLS.org.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the global leader in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.