EUGENE, Ore., April 5, 2016 – Phil and Penny Knight have pledged a gift of $10 million over the next ten years to support the David B. Frohnmayer Scientific Research Fund, a dedicated fund under the umbrella of the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund (FARF). The FARF Board of Directors established this special Fund to honor co-founder David Frohnmayer, who died in March 2015.
The Knight pledge is a cornerstone gift of FARF’s new $20 million campaign, according to FARF’s Executive Director, Pamela Norr. The campaign is committed to accelerating the pace of clinical trials, drug testing, gene therapies and more effective treatments for children and adults with Fanconi anemia (FA), she said. “A major focus of these game-changing initiatives will be preventing and curing the cancers that are now the primary cause of death in adults with FA. FARF has garnered initial gifts and pledges in excess of $12 million, all devoted exclusively to the Frohnmayer Scientific Research Fund.”
The Frohnmayer dedicated fund is intended to accelerate, not replace, FARF’s ongoing efforts to raise money each year to support scientific research grants and symposia, and to provide education and support services to families devastated by this disease.
“The urgency of this campaign to intensify scientific research is a direct consequence of FARF’s success. Fanconi anemia, once thought to be primarily a fatal bone marrow disorder of childhood, has now been unmasked as a DNA repair disorder that causes cancer in young adults,” said Grover C. Bagby, Jr., M.D., Chair Emeritus, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “Thanks in part to research supported by FARF, 80-94% of children with FA now survive bone marrow transplants. As adults, though, they are at extraordinarily high risk for developing cancer, at an average age of 33. Since they can’t tolerate chemotherapy, treatments that are effective for others are out of the question for them,” Bagby said.
As grim as this prognosis sounds, Bagby said, it comes in the midst of an explosion of FA research — especially research that leads to treatment. After 25 years devoted to identifying 19 FA genes, improving bone marrow transplants, and uncovering connections to breast and other cancers, FA scientists are now poised to create less toxic therapies that radically extend lives. These advances will help not only adults with FA, but millions of others with cancer.
“Cancer is the largest cause of death in the FA young adult population. It is my profound hope that this Fund in David’s honor will identify new, effective therapies to prevent and treat these cancers, and give young people with FA the chance to experience a full adulthood,” said Lynn Frohnmayer, FARF Co-founder.
“Phil and Penny Knight’s generosity is a fitting tribute to David,” said Frohnmayer. “More than financial, it is a gift of hope and compassion. It honors David’s boundless optimism and reinforces his firm conviction that dedicated people, working together, can change the world.”