The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute will be able to build on the success of its blood-related cancer services thanks to a generous grant of $5,375,000 from the Dresner Foundation. The grant will be distributed over the next five years and will elevate the Institute’s leadership in hematologic malignancies research. The grant will create an endowed chair position, help recruit gifted scientists and fellowship positions, and establish a patient registry and tissue bank for blood-related cancers. It will also establish a Patient Assistance Fund to help low-income cancer patients with financial challenges during their cancer care. This grant, combined with the personal giving from the Dresner family, brings their total giving to the Karmanos Cancer Institute to over $10.4 million since 1998.

Charles A. Schiffer, M.D., multidisciplinary team leader of Malignant Hematology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, and professor of medicine and oncology, Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, will serve as the first endowed Joseph Dresner Chair for Hematologic Malignancies. Dr. Schiffer is a world renowned expert in leukemia, myelodysplasia and transfusion supportive care, as well as other hematologic cancers.

“I’m honored to be recognized by the esteemed legacy of Vera and Joseph Dresner, an incredibly giving couple who, even now, continue to improve the lives of those challenged by blood-related cancers,” said Dr. Schiffer.

“This grant will help recruit additional physicians with unique research skills to help bring new clinical trials and treatment options for patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), leukemia and other blood cancers, enhancing the critical work being done at Karmanos. It will support the creation of a tumor tissue bank for research purposes and the data management resources to correlate the research findings with clinical outcomes. In addition, it will provide cancer patients with financial assistance for medications, transportation and other financial challenges, so they can concentrate on surviving their disease without the additional stress of financial burdens.”

The Dresner Foundation was established by the late Joseph and Vera Dresner to support health researchers and those dedicated to improving the quality and length of life for patients. Joseph Dresner was diagnosed with MDS in 2002 and was treated by Dr. Schiffer at Karmanos. Mr. Dresner’s personal struggle with the disease made him acutely aware of the need to support dedicated physicians to advance their work.

To show his gratitude, in 2010, Mr. Dresner made a donation of $5 million to Karmanos to honor Dr. Schiffer for his world-renowned expertise in treating hematologic malignancies. That gift led to the development of the Joseph Dresner Family Clinic for Hematologic Malignancies & Stem Cell Transplantation at Karmanos, which opened in May 2012, shortly after Mr. Dresner passed away.

The Dresner Clinic is currently operated under the leadership of Dr. Schiffer and Joseph Uberti, M.D., Ph.D., division chief, Hematology and co-director, Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Karmanos. Patients seen in the clinic are treated for bone marrow and stem cell transplants, MDS, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and other hematologic malignancies.

Lori Dresner, president of the Dresner Foundation, continues her parents’ legacy through the foundation.

“The Dresner Foundation is proud to support the work of the Karmanos Cancer Institute and the compassionate and gifted team who continue to provide the latest treatments and research advancements to help patients like my dad and so many others who are battling blood-related cancers,” said Dresner.

“Our family has seen first-hand the quality of care that patients receive at Karmanos. Supporting the endowed chair position and the recruitment of specialized scientists who train with the best will not only ensure that that level of excellent care and innovative research that Karmanos is known for continues; it will also be enhanced. The Detroit community is fortunate to have a top hematology treatment program in the country right here at Karmanos, supported by cutting edge research to help improve patient survival rates.”

Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D. president and CEO, Karmanos Cancer Institute; and chair, Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, has championed for cancer research throughout his career. Never has that been more critical than now.

“With shrinking funding for cancer research, the support from foundations, corporations and the community-at-large is needed now more than ever,” said Dr. Bepler.

“In order to attract the best we must be the best. We will not waiver from our commitment to do all we can for our patients.”

Dr. Bepler added, “We are truly grateful for the outstanding support of the Dresner Foundation, its understanding of the role research plays to eradicate cancers, and for supporting the recruitment of physician-scientists who will help take our program to the next level and assure that Karmanos’ exceptional patient care continues for years to come.”

For information on cancer services or ways to support, call 1-800-527-6266 or visit www.karmanos.org

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