PRESS RELEASE from the University of Utah
SALT LAKE CITY — Today the Majerus Family Foundation (a foundation Rick Majerus, former University of Utah basketball coach from 1989-2004, established prior to his death in 2012) announced that it will make a gift in the amount of $2 million toward the construction of the new Primary Children’s and Families’ Cancer Research Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). Construction is expected to begin in 2014.
With the addition of the 220,000 square-foot expansion to the world-renowned laboratories at Huntsman Cancer Institute, HCI will double its research capacity and accelerate cures for children stricken with leukemia, sarcomas, and brain cancers, and for families who from generation to generation have been robbed of loved ones due to cancer. The entire cost of the expansion will be $100 million.
Upon learning of the gift, Jon M. Huntsman, HCI’s founder and principal benefactor, said, “Rick joined our family’s efforts to establish a world-class center in Utah as a founding member of the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Throughout his amazing lifetime he continued to generously donate as much and as often as he was able to advance the cause.”
In noting the need for an increased focus on childhood cancers and inherited forms of cancer, Mary Beckerle, PhD, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Huntsman Cancer Institute said, “Cancer’s toll is devastating to families. Cancer takes parents from their children and children from their parents. HCI’s new research facility will accelerate our progress toward understanding both childhood and adult cancers that affect our families.”
“Rick and I were like brothers,” Mr. Huntsman said. “He was always a guiding light in building the Cancer Institute and never missed an opportunity to bring the University of Utah basketball team over to our research center or hospital to cheer on our patients and herald the progress we made. He was a great inspiration to the children and adults who were struggling mightily to overcome this dreaded disease.”
Huntsman Cancer Institute manages the largest population genetics database in the world. This database is an interlinkage of 18 million genealogic, birth, death, marriage, and health records, extending back to European settlers. Using annotated multigenerational family histories, the database has enabled scientists to evaluate the presence of inherited disease in families, discovering more mutations for inherited forms of cancer than any other center in the world. Thanks to this resource, HCI has unlocked the answers to genetic mutations that cause breast, colon, melanoma, head and neck, ovarian, and other cancers.