University of Rochester Cancer Center Renamed to Honor Major Benefactor

Family Friend Senator Ernest Hollings Punctuates Celebration

November 14, 2000

As of Tuesday, November 14, the University of Rochester Cancer Center will bear the name of prominent Rochester businessman and benefactor, James P. Wilmot. Through The James P. Wilmot Foundation, Mr. Wilmot and his family have to date gifted more than $13 million as part of an ongoing effort to help the University of Rochester fund cancer research, teaching and treatment -a tradition of generosity unmatched by any single donor in the Cancer Center's history.

Day-Long Celebration Marks Renaming

The official renaming will take place at a 12:30 p.m. luncheon in the Flaum atrium of the Kornberg Medical Research Building with University, Medical Center and Cancer Center leaders together with Wilmot Foundation chair and son of James P. Wilmot, William B. Wilmot, recalling the elder Wilmot's contributions. The group will also unveil a plaque to be placed in the Cancer Center entrance heralding the Center's official new name.

The luncheon caps a morning scientific symposium with some of the nation's most respected cancer researchers and clinicians from institutions such as The Rockefeller University, Harvard University, the National Cancer Institute, and Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center. The symposium also commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Wilmot Cancer Research Fellowship Program at the University of Rochester.

The luncheon will be followed by a 1:30 p.m. keynote address from long-time Wilmot family friend, Senator Ernest F. Hollings. The Democratic Senator from South Carolina is the ranking member of the Senate's Commerce Committee and also serves on the Appropriations and Budget committees. In addition, he is a major supporter of medical research and the NIH, particularly cancer research.

Following Holling's remarks, Cancer Center staff will present a series of concurrent, 30-minute seminars for the general public, providing information on cancer prevention and the latest treatment options.

"We are extraordinarily grateful for the enduring generosity of James P. Wilmot through the Foundation that he established," said Jay H. Stein, M.D., Medical Center CEO. "The James P. Wilmot Cancer Center is a fitting tribute to this man who cared so deeply for our community. His legacy lives on in the discoveries made by the dozens of Wilmot fellows who are working toward a cure."

James P. Wilmot was an entrepreneur who founded Page Airways, Inc. now Page Avjet Corp., as well as Wilmorite, Inc. At the urging of his personal physician and devoted friend, Jacob D. Goldstein, M.D., Wilmot founded The James P. Wilmot Foundation, a philanthropy dedicated to attracting, training and supporting doctors who are pursuing a career in cancer research through the Wilmot Fellowship program. The fellowship supports aspiring researchers for a period of up to three years of training in cancer research. The first fellowship was awarded in 1982 and since that time, the Wilmot Foundation has granted 74 Wilmot Fellowships.

About the Wilmot Fellowship

Generous funding from the James P. Wilmot Foundation has helped to launch distinguished careers for many physicians over the years. Of the 74 Wilmot Fellows, about half continue to serve on the faculty of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

They include:

  • Dr. William Bonnez, Associate Director of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Unit. His studies on the basic science of the papilloma virus has led to a vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer that's currently being tested at URMC and at other sites nationwide.
  • Dr. Francis Gigliotti, Professor of Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases Unit. As the chief of pediatric infectious diseases, Gigliotti is a leader in defining the molecules that are immune targets on pneumonia in people whose immune systems are compromised.
  • Dr. Jane Liesveld, Associate Professor of Medicine, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program. As leader of the transplant unit, she has made major contributions toward the understanding of growth factor regulation of bone marrow cells.
  • Dr. Kerri O'Banion, Associate Professor. He was co-investigator on the team that cloned and sequenced the COX-2 gene, which opened the door to developing powerful anti-inflammatory drugs.

"Many of our former Wilmot Fellows have completed their fellowship training and have chosen to remain at the Cancer Center - working to increase our understanding of the complex conditions that lead to cancer and developing innovations that will help more patients to conquer the disease," said George Abraham, M.D., director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. "Others have gone on to serve as investigators at other leading cancer research and treatment facilities."

Medical Center and Wilmot Foundation leaders believe that the addition of the James P. Wilmot name will position the Cancer Center for national prominence. "Were he here, Mr. Wilmot would hope that the net effect of using his name would enhance the capabilities of the University and the Cancer Center to be even more successful in the treatment of cancer by finding new ways to raise funds, increase national recognition and attract professionals," said William B. Wilmot.

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