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$25 million gift to DHH from Dorothy Byrne
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$25 million gift to DHH from Dorothy Byrne

A $25 million gift to Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health from Dorothy Byrne, a longtime supporter of cancer research and patient care, will establish a robust, interdisciplinary cancer research institute to leverage the innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration that is deeply embedded in the Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) in order to fast-track world-class scientific discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside to benefit cancer patients in the region and around the world.

The Byrne Family Cancer Research Institute at Norris Cotton Cancer Center will transform and accelerate the translation of research to prevent and cure cancer, enhance cancer survivorship, and promote cancer health equity.

The gift, the largest ever given jointly to Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH), is the lead gift in a $50 million campaign to create the institute, which will support the cancer center’s mission to radically expand access to immunotherapies, as well as to pioneer cancer prevention, diagnostics, and treatment through precision medicine, which customizes an approach to care and treatment for each patient. The institute will expand the NCCC’s biotech entrepreneurship efforts, providing research teams with the support, education, and infrastructure needed to bring innovation to the marketplace. The work will include guidance from alumni in the field as well as industry and investment leaders expanding medical innovations crucial for treating this complex disease.

The Byrne Institute strengthens the connections among the renowned teaching and research efforts of Dartmouth and its Geisel School of Medicine, Tuck School of Business, and Thayer School of Engineering and the expert clinical diagnostics and patient care throughout the D-HH system.

As part of the $50 million campaign announced today, the Byrne gift is intended to inspire additional support from Dartmouth alumni and parents, local and regional community members, and other philanthropists interested in investing in improved outcomes for cancer patients here and around the world. The gift is another in the generous tradition of the NCCC’s long standing relationship with the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, which has already given more than $12 million to the center.

“Thanks to the vision of Dorothy Byrne and her late husband, Jack, this transformative gift is the beginning of a major mobilization of investment in our research and discovery enterprise,” says NCCC Director Steven Leach, a physician and scientist who is the Preston T. and Virginia R. Kelsey Distinguished Chair in Cancer at Geisel School of Medicine. “The launch of the Byrne Family Cancer Research Institute at Norris Cotton Cancer Center will elevate and accelerate our contributions among global cancer research institutes and make new and novel cancer treatment a reality.”

As part of NCCC’s strategic planning process, Geisel and D-HH recently mapped a bold plan to accelerate trans-disciplinary cancer research through a five-year, $50 million investment in the center. The Byrne commitment of $25 million to the plan serves as an important component in Dartmouth’s $3 billion The Call to Lead campaign, as well as a clear demonstration of support for the shared Dartmouth and D-HH vision to expand, intensify, and accelerate potentially life-saving cancer research.

“For 50 years, NCCC has been critically important for our work at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the larger Dartmouth health system,” says Joanne M. Conroy ’77, CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. “With this extraordinary gift from Dorothy Byrne, and under the strong leadership of Steve Leach, our cancer center is poised to further cement its reputation as a major player in national cancer research and innovation, as well as one of the country’s foremost cancer treatment centers.”

Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 says the Byrne gift will strengthen and intensify collaboration between Dartmouth’s researchers and D-HH physicians. “The institute is an inspired and urgent collaboration between our two distinguished and complementary institutions. Working together, these accomplished scientists, researchers, and physicians will expand the scope of their work to find a cure for cancer and develop the best treatments for those living with the disease.”

Following the creation in 2016 of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, the Byrne Institute is the second major interdisciplinary institute launched at Dartmouth during Hanlon’s presidency, each with the goal of tackling a complex global challenge.

Half of the $50 million investment will support academic excellence through the recruitment and retention of new PhD and physician scientists, acquisition of advanced research equipment, and enhanced training for Geisel students and faculty. The remaining half will support a best-in-class clinical trials research program and funding for the most promising innovations—ultimately putting those with greatest promise into the hands of the patients and physicians who need them most.

“The generosity of Dorothy Byrne inspires everyone connected to the Norris Cotton Cancer Center,” says Geisel Dean Duane Compton. “This landmark gift highlights the remarkable creativity and innovation in our cancer research programs and is a foundational step toward creating better cancer treatments and prevention strategies.”

The gift comes as NCCC celebrates its 50th anniversary, made possible by funds secured through New Hampshire’s then U.S. Sen. Norris Cotton’s support of the National Cancer Act. Since then, NCCC has been a leader in cancer care and research, as one of the nation’s 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and the only NCI Cancer Center north of Boston.

The Byrne family’s very substantial generosity over the past 15 years includes annual matching dollars to increase funds raised at NCCC’s largest annual community fundraiser, The Prouty, and a naming gift in 2014 gift of $10 million that created the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I join others in establishing The Byrne Family Cancer Research Institute at Norris Cotton Cancer Center,” says Dorothy Byrne. “I have admired Steve Leach and his work since I met him, and I know that he and his fellow scientists will endeavor to strive for new cancer research initiatives in the years ahead. I look forward to seeing that happen.”

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