At the Ivy Foundation, our long-term, ultimate goal is to cure brain cancer. To that end, we fund cutting-edge research that will improve diagnostics and treatment options for patients with brain cancer. Our goal is to double the life expectancy of patients with brain cancer, and to do so within seven years. Since 2005, we’ve committed more than $60 million to brain tumor research, with the expectation that this will lead to better diagnostics and therapies. We are dedicated to this effort because funding leads to answers, and answers lead to hope.
My husband Ben and I always believed in the importance of giving back to the community. For several years, we discussed our philanthropic interest in the areas of healthcare and education. Unfortunately, the focus of our newly-formed foundation became painfully clear when Ben was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in August 2005 and passed away four months later in November 2005.
During the last four months of Ben’s life, his quality of life was severely compromised. In addition to his devastating diagnosis, Ben’s suffering made a difficult situation overwhelmingly painful. The mission of the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation is to fund research on gliomas in order to develop diagnostics and treatments that lead to long-term survival and a high quality of life for patients with brain tumors. I want to decrease the suffering of patients with brain tumors and wish to prevent others from having to go through what we endured. The patient is at the core of everything we do, which is why funding patient-focused research for brain cancer is the priority of our foundation.
Ben loved the art of deal-making, and one of his greatest strengths was turning challenges into opportunities. He was not afraid to take a risk, which is why we will not only fund science of merit but also “riskier” science. We embrace that what others may consider “failure” might actually be an opportunity to learn and move the ball forward. We intend to be as transparent as possible, to share our mistakes and experiences, and to encourage others in the brain tumor community to do the same. By sharing what we have learned, we can create more efficiency so we don’t duplicate mistakes, and we can focus on new, potentially beneficial approaches.
Ben and I had hoped we could use the business principles and strategies learned in our careers to make a philanthropic impact. As it turns out, our financial planning backgrounds have great application within the Ivy Foundation and drive the way we fund research. While we provide funding for research, we do not give gifts. We view our funding efforts as an investment in a (research) partnership with an expected rate of return measured by milestones and results.
We also believe in a collaborative approach, and are committed to fostering various models of collaboration among researchers to help create efficient communication in order to learn what works best for patient-focused research. We look forward to a day when “GBM” no longer means “glioblastoma multiforme” but rather “genomics-based medicine.” This would be a great example of turning a challenge into an opportunity.
I feel privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to this cause and have met so many wonderful members of the brain tumor community. I recognize that the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation is just one part of a large network of researchers, organizations, institutions, companies, patients, and caregivers all working to fight this disease, and I hope that the research our foundation funds will lead us to the day when no one has to go through what Ben did.