skip to main content

Hovnanian Foundation gives U-M $1.65M for adrenal cancer research

Date Visible: 
03/20/2015 - 10:45am

Media contact: Nicole Fawcett, 734-764-2220 | Patients may contact Cancer AnswerLine™, 800-865-1125

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center received a $1.65 million gift from the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation to fund adrenal cancer research. The gift will further the work of Gary D. Hammer, M.D., Ph.D. and Shruti Jolly, M.D., who treated a member of the Hovnanian family for adrenal cancer.

The bulk of the gift, $1.5 million, will go toward establishing a named Adrenal Cancer Repository and Genomic Database. This gift will enable Hammer and his team of researchers to conduct the world’s most comprehensive genomic and genetic analysis of adrenal cancer, which will facilitate translational and clinical research in adrenal cancer. It will help expand and further activate the largest adrenal tumor bank, which is pivotal to uncover the molecular mechanisms of tumor growth and novel insights that will lead to the next generation of adrenal cancer therapies.

The gift will also provide the critical infrastructure needed to establish an integrated, secure database of genetic data, patient data and scores of other factors gleaned from the tumor samples. This database will allow researchers globally to access the information, identify biomarkers and genetic markers of adrenal cancer, study the genetic syndromes for these tumors, and accelerate discovery by enabling large-scale, long-term longitudinal studies of patients.

For a rare disease, the researchers note, it is essential to have this type of collaborative global effort.

“The Hovnanian gift is transformative by providing critical support to the Endocrine Oncology Program in the emerging era of personalized medicine when every cancer will surely be genetically sequenced to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of adrenal cancer,” said Tobias Else, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at U-M, who will lead the genomic database.

The other $150,000 will support integrative oncology research being pursued by Jolly, associate professor of radiation oncology at U-M. She is studying the role of exercise, nutrition and other integrative modalities during cancer treatment.

“Our family’s foundation has shown a huge commitment to health care institutions over the last decade, so when I traveled to Michigan I knew I was getting the best treatment and was in the best hands in the world,” says Armen Hovnanian, trustee of the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation. “After my treatment, I welcomed helping the gifted doctors at the University of Michigan who have devoted their lives to this cancer, and encouraged our family’s support to move their vision forward. And we did it gladly.”

“For rare diseases and particularly extremely rare cancers, grateful patients and empowered families are increasingly changing the landscape of medical discovery.  We are extremely grateful for our partnership with the Hovnanian family and together look forward with optimism and hope to the eradication of this dreadful disease,” says Hammer, Millie Schembechler Professor of Adrenal Cancer at the U-M Rogel Cancer Center.

back to top