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Donation spearheads annual Portland cancer research summit

PORTLAND, Ore. Prominent cancer researchers from throughout the country will be invited to gather at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) yearly beginning in 2016 to expand upon the Knight Cancer Institute's vision for transforming cancer treatment through early detection, thanks to a $1 million gift from the Gordon Sondland and Katherine Durant Foundation (Sondland-Durant Foundation).

The foundation is endowing this high-level conference to support the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute's $1 billion initiative to revolutionize early cancer detection tests and technologies, one of the largest unmet needs in cancer care today.

The first annual Sondland-Durant Distinguished Research Conference will be held in 2016 in Portland, Ore., and will offer a highly visible opportunity for Knight Cancer Institute leaders and their peers to share breakthrough research and explore new ideas for scientific collaboration.

"No one person and no one institution will solve the problem of cancer alone. This generous gift from the Sondland-Durant Foundation provides an opportunity for the world's top minds to gather and share insights. I am confident that by working together we will accelerate our ability to make a difference for patients in our lifetime," said OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Director Brian Druker, M.D.

Gordon Sondland is a member of the OHSU Foundation Board of Trustees, and chairman and chief executive officer of Provenance Hotels. His wife, Katherine Durant, is the co-founder of Atlas Investments and serves as vice chair of the Oregon Investment Council. Sondland and Durant created their foundation in 1999 and are longtime donors to OHSU. In 2011, the couple established an emergency fund to cover unexpected patient needs such as dietary requirements or transportation for family members.

"Katy and I are delighted to partner with OHSU with the goal of making this community the epicenter of the global discussion surrounding cancer research and treatment," said Sondland. "It is our hope that this yearly summit will ultimately become the international 'Davos World Economic Forum' of cancer research."

"We so appreciate the ongoing support we have received from Gordon, Katherine and their foundation, and particularly the foundation's most recent generous gift to advance OHSU's work in cancer early detection research," said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. "This new conference will be central to sharing the path-breaking discoveries made at the Knight Cancer Institute, and speeding the process of turning research into actual treatments that save cancer patients' lives. It also will contribute significantly to the economic vitality of our region by bringing a stream of top scientists to Portland every year."

Nike Co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, sparked an unprecedented two-year, $1 billion OHSU fundraising effort to beat cancer in September 2013 when they pledged $500 million to the Knight Cancer Institute if OHSU raised another $500 million by Feb. 4, 2016. The Knights are inspired by the institute's vision to build on its knowledge of what drives cancer's growth to detect the disease at its earliest, most curable stages. As Phil Knight remarked in announcing the couple's gift, "It is incumbent upon all of us to do everything we can to keep the miracles coming at OHSU."

The Sondland-Durant Foundation gift is among the $105 million in donations and pledges received to date by the OHSU Foundation for the Knight Cancer Challenge campaign. The state of Oregon has authorized an additional $200 million in bonding authority to build two state-of-the-art facilities on Portland's South Waterfront to house expanded teams of world-class scientists and clinicians who will translate scientific discoveries into tests, technologies and clinical trials for new treatments.


Contact: Elisa Williams
Oregon Health & Science University

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