2021 Annual Report - University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

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Spotlight The Hooglands

Family’s $5M gift advances UChicago Medicine’s vision for cancer immunotherapy Since its inception, the Hoogland family’s corporate “Round It Up for Lymphoma” campaign has raised more than $4 million for the research of Sonali Smith, MD, director of UChicago Medicine’s Lymphoma Program, allowing her to launch the Hoogland Lymphoma Biobank in 2013. Smith has since collected more than 1,000 blood samples and nearly 500 tissue samples — which are used to help researchers better understand the disease — from nearly 1,500 patients.

Keith and Susan Hoogland

Building on the success of the biobank, the Hooglands began thinking about how they could support research on other cancer types to have an even greater impact. Their ambition inspired Smith to introduce them to Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, the AbbVie Foundation Professor of Cancer Immunotherapy, and one of the world’s leading experts in his field. Gajewski and his colleagues have an ambitious goal: double the immunotherapy response rate in 10 years or less. His vision inspired the Hooglands to pledge $5 million toward accelerating cancer immunotherapy research at UChicago Medicine so that more patients can benefit from the life-saving therapies. “I’m a problem solver and that’s one of the things that connected me to Dr. Smith and Dr. Gajewski,” Keith said. “There is a long-term goal: solve lymphoma or — through immunotherapy — solve the riddle of cancer. I think of it as an investment in something that has a good chance of working or will lead to something — some big breakthroughs.” By focusing research on the patients for whom immunotherapies fail, Gajewski aims to identify, understand and overcome the defenses that cancers use to escape or withstand immune attack. Over the past few years, his team has been collecting tumor, tissue, blood and stool samples from hundreds of patients participating in immunotherapy clinical trials. These banked samples represent a gold mine of data for understanding what helps one patient’s response and what hinders another’s. The Hoogland’s generous gift will help Gajewski identify those reasons so that more cancer patients can benefit from all that immunotherapy has to offer. “Philanthropy fills in the gaps,” he said. “It allows researchers to take risks and tackle the big ideas. Keith and Susan’s generosity will have a profound impact on our understanding of immunotherapy response and ability to develop treatments that help the most patients.”

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University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center