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$20 million new gift from philanthropist Julie Wood to establish lung cancer research center
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$20 million new gift from philanthropist Julie Wood to establish lung cancer research center

Indiana University has landed a $20 million gift to establish a new research center for lung cancer and to staff it with a leadership team and several researchers.

The gift, announced Tuesday morning, is from local philanthropist Julie Wood, in honor of her late husband, Tom Wood, a prominent car dealer who died of lung cancer in 2010 at age 78.

The money is directed to IU’s Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, which will set up the Tom and Julie Wood Center for Lung Cancer Research.

“When Tom was facing lung cancer, we were so grateful that for the three and a half years, every time one treatment stopped working, research had evolved and something new was available that gave us precious time together,” Julie Wood said in written remarks. ”We are creating this center to give that same hope to others.”

Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for about 1 in 5 of all cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Lung cancer will kill an estimated 125,070 Americans this year, the society said.

The Wood family gift to IU  includes the creation of a new $11 million research fund that will allow the new center’s leadership team to make investments to accelerate discoveries of lung cancer treatments and therapies.

Another $7 million in endowed funding will be used to recruit an endowed senior chair and director for the center, plus two endowed chairs to attract additional lung cancer research experts.

And the final $2 million of the gift will support an educational and advocacy program called End Lung Cancer Now.

“With her visionary gift, Julie Wood will equip our faculty and researchers to deepen Indiana University’s trailblazing fight against lung cancer,” IU President Pamela Whitten said in written remarks. “Her generosity will reinforce IU’s role as a champion for life-saving treatments and breakthrough therapies that can help end cancer for Hoosiers everywhere.

IU researchers are working to improve prevention efforts, detect lung cancer earlier and develop personalized therapies for patients.

The Wood family has given more than $28 million to IU cancer research and care, placing them among the four largest donors to the Simon Center, a central hub for cancer research and education, the university said.

Last year, the Woods gave a $4.5 million gift to the cancer center and to Indiana University Health to set up a mobile lung cancer screening program, which is expected to screen its first patient in 2025. Other gifts include two endowed professorships in lung cancer research.

“Here at IU, we believe research cures cancer, and we are exceptionally grateful that Julie Wood believes that too,” Dr. Kelvin Lee, director of the Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in written remarks.

Earlier this month, Community Health Network announced that it landed a $5 million gift from the Wood family, the largest in the network’s history, to support  recovery housing for people with substance-use disorders at its Fairbanks Recovery Center.

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