Bold Initiative to Transform Cancer Care Established with a $100 Million Gift

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We are thrilled to announce the creation of the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology (CMO), a unique and intensive endeavor to transform cancer care through genomic analysis of patient-derived tumors.

Named in honor of Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis and the visionary $100 million gift from their foundation, the CMO will enable Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers to speed the translation of new discoveries into routine clinical practice and reshape the design of clinical trials.

“Progress in our understanding of the biology of cancer has completely shifted the way we think about and treat cancer,” says Memorial Sloan Kettering President and CEO Craig B. Thompson. “We’re moving away from the concept of treating cancer as many different types of the same disease and toward treating each person’s cancer as its own unique disease. “

“The CMO is a bold initiative, a true transformational effort, that will bring genomic medicine to our patients,” adds José Baselga, Physician-in-Chief of Memorial Hospital. Ultimately, the goal of the new initiative is to fully deliver on the promise of personalized medicine by creating better treatment options for all people with cancer.

Commenting on the center, Mr. Kravis said, “Memorial Sloan Kettering has already proven itself to be a leader in understanding cancer at the genetic level and in putting that knowledge to work for patients. The new Center for Molecular Oncology will take these efforts to an entirely new level, and I look forward with great anticipation to the discoveries that lie ahead.”

Mrs. Kravis, who has been a member of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Boards of Overseers and Managers since October 2000 and is Chair of the Sloan Kettering Institute added, “Henry and I are delighted to support this exciting new initiative, which offers such hope to people around the world.”

New Opportunities for Personalized Treatment

“The mission of the Center for Molecular Oncology is to bring together a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, geneticists, cell biologists, and bioinformaticians to really try to get to the fundamental question of why a particular individual gets their cancer,” explains CMO Director David B. Solit.

The center’s faculty will undertake a vast, translational research program. For every type of cancer, archived tumor specimens and tissues obtained in clinical trials will be comprehensively profiled using cutting-edge DNA sequencing instrumentation and other technologies. The molecular information of each tumor will then be correlated with clinical data — such as the patient’s outcome and response to therapy — to identify the functional significance of genetic alterations in tumors and the opportunities they offer for treating cancer patients in a more individualized way.

“For some patients, this could be a game changer,” says Associate CMO Director Michael Berger. “We can find mutations in their tumor that suggest they are going to respond to a drug that the oncologist never would have thought to try.”

“We feel we are at the cutting edge of opportunity in science and medicine,” adds Sloan Kettering Institute Director Joan Massagué. “[The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation] is making it possible, with their generosity, to take a leap.”

Watch the video above to learn more about the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology. Read a Wall Street Journal article and a press release about the donation, and check back on our website soon for updates on our progress in finding more precise ways to diagnose and treat cancer.