UR Alum’s $5M Gift to Wilmot Cancer Center Will Expand Cancer Research

April 29, 2007

John Wallis "Jack" Rowe, M.D.

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry alumnus and former chairman and CEO of Aetna John Wallis "Jack" Rowe, M.D., has generously donated $5 million to support the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center’s comprehensive campaign to expand cancer care and research.

It is the largest single gift from a living alumnus of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and one of the largest private donations to a Medical Center program in its 86-year history.

"This tremendous gift is a testament to the confidence that our alumni have in the quality clinical and research programs at the Medical Center and Wilmot Cancer Center," said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. "Jack Rowe’s gift furthers the University’s commitment to provide the highest quality cancer care and research. I am most grateful for his inspirational gift."

"My own family, like many others, has experienced the fear and triumph of a diagnosis of cancer. Advances in diagnosis and therapy have made survival with cancer an expectation for many types of cancer. Our gift will enable research in novel areas such as cancer immunology that hold promise for all cancer patients," said Rowe, a 1970 graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The Wilmot Cancer Center is raising $42.5 million to construct a new facility to double clinical and research space, consolidate outpatient cancer care and research laboratories in a single location, recruit additional scientists and build translational research programs to find cures. Rowe’s donation brings the five-year campaign total to $30 million.

The research laboratories dedicated to translational research in the new Wilmot Cancer Center facility will be named in recognition of Rowe’s gift.

Rowe was president and CEO of Aetna Inc., from 2000 to 2006. Before joining Aetna, he was president and chief executive officer of Mount Sinai New York University Health. Internationally recognized for his research and health policy efforts for the care of the elderly, Rowe was a founding director of Harvard Medical School's Division on Aging.

"It’s exciting to see this level of giving from a fellow alum and Jack Rowe’s gift will help the Wilmot Cancer Center become a national leader in the field of cancer care and research," said William A. Peck, M.D., University Trustee and chair of the Health Affairs Committee who graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1960.

The Wilmot Cancer Center has adopted an ambitious plan to capture the National Cancer Institute designation as one of the country’s top cancer centers. Over the past four years, more than 20 scientists and clinicians have been recruited to bolster research and patient care programs.

A key element of the plan is the construction of a new state-of-the-art, four-story, 163,000-square-foot facility at the corner of East Drive and Crittenden Boulevard, which began a year ago. This new building, set to open in spring 2008, was designed with patient comfort at the forefront and will offer unprecedented levels of privacy, educational opportunities and ease of access.

"Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases that we face as individuals and physicians, and providing outstanding cancer care and cutting-edge research is a top priority for the Medical Center," said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and senior vice president for Health Sciences. "The Wilmot Cancer Center is key to the future growth of the Medical Center and we are pleased to see Jack Rowe’s gift support our efforts."

"Expanding our programs will let people of the Finger Lakes region stay close to home for the very best cancer care," said Richard I. Fisher, M.D., director of the Wilmot Cancer Center and vice president for Clinical Services at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "The new facility will allow us to better serve the growing number of patients from outside the region coming to Rochester for our expert, multidisciplinary cancer care."

The Wilmot Cancer Center has one of the largest clinical programs for lymphoma and leukemia in the northeast and leads the nation in shaped-beam stereotactic radiosurgery to destroy tumors that were once considered untreatable.

As the leader in cancer care, research and education in the Finger Lakes region, Wilmot’s team of 600 doctors, nurses, scientists and staff provide diagnosis and multidisciplinary clinical care for all forms of cancer. They are dedicated to a single mission: to beat cancer.

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Leslie White
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