A gift from the estate of renowned fashion designer Geoffrey Beene will enable Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) to launch an ambitious research initiative to be known as the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center. It will build on MSKCC’s strong existing scientific and clinical programs with the goal of translating the revolutionary advances researchers have made in understanding how cancer works at the cellular level into equally dramatic progress in controlling it.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has established the initiative with an initial commitment of $44 million.
The research center is named in honor of Geoffrey Beene, a native of Haynesville, Louisiana, who achieved international distinction as one of the top fashion designers of the past 50 years. Mr. Beene, the founder of Geoffrey Beene Inc. died in 2004 at age 80 of complications from cancer. It was his wish that his estate should provide direct support for cancer research, and the creation of the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center will provide the means to realize that vision.
“Cancer research is now entering a pivotal phase, and the establishment of the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center could not come at a better time,” said Harold Varmus, President of MSKCC. “This generous gift carries us closer to the day when all components of cancer care — from risk assessment to diagnosis, and from screening to treatment — will be grounded in a clear understanding of the basic biology of the disease.”
“It is a time of exciting progress in the fight against cancer, but for those whose lives have been touched by the disease, the pace of advancement is never fast enough, and the number of treatment options can often seem too few,” said G. Thompson Hutton, the estate’s executor. “Geoffrey Beene wanted to do something about this, and we are confident that MSKCC, with its breadth of scientific and clinical resources, is the institution best-positioned to carry out his wishes.”
The Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center will focus support on two complementary programs at Memorial Sloan Kettering that together span the range of translational research. The Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, which is based in the Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI), brings together highly accomplished scientists to study the genetic and biochemical events that trigger the transformation of normal cells into cancerous ones. The Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, based in Memorial Hospital, pursues new insights into the molecular mechanisms of cancer from the perspective of clinical oncology.
“The world knew Geoffrey Beene as a person of singular ability and accomplishment, and the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center will embody his remarkable commitment,” said Douglas A. Warner III, Chairman of the MSKCC’s Boards of Overseers and Managers. “We are deeply grateful to Tom Hutton and the estate of Geoffrey Beene for entrusting MSKCC with this inspiring legacy.”
Multidisciplinary research undertaken with support from the new initiative will lead ultimately to the development of preventive strategies, diagnostics, and new therapies targeted to the fundamental processes that cause the disease. When fully in place, the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center will fund a range of activities, including endowed senior and junior chairs, graduate fellowships, core research labs, and a lectureship, in addition to providing substantial direct support for research.
Work supported through the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center will be housed in The Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Building, a 23-story research facility that recently opened at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.