Research foundation gives major donation to Cancer Center

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama endowed a new research professorship through its gift to the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama presented its largest donation yet — $500,000 — to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Feb. 7, 2012.

Andres Forero-Torres, M.D., center, with Dolly
O'Neal, left, and Bruce Sokol, right, cofounders
of the BCRFA. Forero will be the first holder of the
O'Neal-Sokol BCRFA Endowed Professorship.

Since its inception in 1996, the BCRFA has made an annual contribution to the UAB Cancer Center with the proceeds from its fund-raising efforts, including events, donations and sales of specialty breast-cancer license plates. This contribution, in honor of dedicated board member and BCRFA treasurer Donna Clark, brings the organization’s total donations to UAB to nearly $3.5 million.

This year, a portion of the gift will help fund the new O’Neal-Sokol Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama Endowed Professorship, named for the organization’s co-founders Dolly A. O’Neal and Bruce Sokol.

Andres Forero-Torres, M.D., professor of medicine in the UAB Division of Hematology & Oncology, director of Clinical Protocols and Data Management Shared Facility and senior scientist in the Cancer Center Experimental Therapeutics Program, is the inaugural holder of the endowed professorship.

“We are fortunate to have the support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama. This donation represents the work of many business and community partners with the common goal of fighting breast cancer and providing patients with viable options to do that,” says Forero, a nationally recognized expert in breast-cancer research.

The BCRFA provided pilot funding for key breast-cancer research, which has led to the award and renewal of the Cancer Center’s Breast Specialized Program of Research Excellence, a five-year, $11.5-million grant from the National Cancer Institute, among other grant funding.

“This gift allows us to focus on extremely important interdisciplinary, patient-centered research with hopes of delivering new therapies faster and safer from the laboratory to the bedside,” said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We are so pleased that this commitment from BCRFA has enabled us to have a breast-cancer research program that is characterized by scientific excellence and compassionate care to the citizens of Alabama and the region.”

Partridge says every dollar the BCRFA donates to the Cancer Center returns an estimated $16 in national and federal grants.