Arizona Republic: Cancer foundation moves to Scottsdale

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Group funds research to extend patient lives

By Ken Alltucker

A privately funded foundation dedicated to brain-cancer research has relocated from Palo Alto, Calif., to Scottsdale.

The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation already has funded more than $50 million in brain-cancer research in the United States and Canada. With a new office on Scottsdale Road near Lincoln Drive, the foundation will continue its mission of underwriting research that seeks to extend the lives of people with brain cancer.

Founder and board President Catherine Ivy, a Phoenix native, cited Arizona’s friendly business climate as a key factor in the move. Ivy wants to make sure the foundation spends as little as possible on staffing and overhead so it can maximize funding of brain-cancer research.

Ivy also cited scientific work at Barrow Neurological Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) as examples of the type of projects the foundation seeks to fund.

“The bottom line is what gets to patients the quickest,” said Ivy, who worked as a financial planner for more than two decades. “It is about the money going to research.”

The foundation’s largest Arizona award was $5 million to TGen and the Ivy early-phase clinical-trials consortium, which includes the University of California-San Francisco, University of California-Los Angeles and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The plan is to conduct an early-stage randomized clinical trial for people with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer. Although the clinical trial has not started, researchers expect the study could begin within six months.

The foundation also announced Tuesday that it would fund a $45,000 internship program that will match TGen scientists with high-school and undergraduate college students who are interested in studying biomedical and brain-cancer research.

TGen President and Research Director Jeffrey Trent said the relocation of the foundation to Scottsdale is welcome news to local researchers and families battling brain cancer.

“It is absolutely a positive for Arizona and a huge positive for patients,” Trent said.

Ivy launched the foundation in 2005 after her husband, Ben Ivy, was diagnosed with glioblastoma. Ben Ivy, who ran a successful real-estate investment business in California, died four months after his diagnosis.

Ivy said the foundation’s goal is to double the survival rate of people diagnosed with brain cancer within seven years.

Glioblastoma, the type of malignant brain cancer that claimed the life of longtime Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, is an aggressive disease that typically strikes down patients within one year.

The median survival rate for glioblastoma patients improved from seven to nine months from 2001 to 2007, according to research presented last year at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

Ivy said she will work to continue to improve the odds for brain-cancer patients and their families.

“What these patients face and go through is a tremendous inspiration to me,” Ivy said.

The Republic | azcentral.com