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Helping Tulane Help Cancer Patients

April 20, 2006

Melanie Cross

Going through Hurricane Katrina was bad enough for the average resident of New Orleans or the Gulf Coast. Going through it while also battling cancer was even worse. But just as the higher education community stepped up to help Tulane and its faculty and students in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the cancer research and healthcare community has been coming through in a big way to help Tulane and its cancer patients.


Charles Hemenway (top photo), associate professor of pediatric hematology-oncology, gives a tour of his lab to Mary Catherine Moffett, patient services manager, Louisiana Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as Jacqueline Nesbit, a graduate student, conducts research.

The most recent aid came in the form of a $230,000 grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Hurricane Katrina Relief Program, awarded to the Tulane Cancer Center's Bone Marrow Transplant Program.

The society, which is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services, donated $100,000 to rebuild Tulane Cancer Center's clinical research program in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma; $80,000 to replace vital machinery and support personnel; $40,000 to support a social worker to assist displaced and returning patients; and $10,000 to help restore the leukemia research laboratory of Charles Hemenway.

"We are very grateful to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for their participation in our recovery effort," says Hana Safah, director of the bone marrow transplant program. "This grant is a generous demonstration of their concern that patients being treated for hematologic malignancies in Katrina-stricken areas continue to have access to quality research-driven cancer treatment and necessary support services."

Since its establishment in January 1994, Tulane has performed more than 250 bone marrow transplant procedures for both adults and children. Safah recently performed Tulane's first two bone marrow transplant procedures since Hurricane Katrina at Tulane-Lakeside Hospital in Metairie.

"In order to meet the critical health care needs of blood cancer patients in New Orleans, the society is committed to helping get treatment centers and patient support services up and running again," says Carter K.D. Guice Jr., president of the Louisiana chapter of the society. "We are proud to be able to help Tulane with its rebuilding effort."


The Tulane Cancer Center received funding for new lab equipment from the society. On hand for the presentation are (from left) Roy S. Weiner, director, Tulane Cancer Center; Dan Watsky, immediate past president of the Board of Trustees, Louisiana Chapter, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; Timothy Pearman, director, Tulane Cancer Center's Patricia Trost Friedler Cancer Counseling Center; Hemenway; Hana Safah, director, Tulane's Bone Marrow Transplant Program; Alan Miller, associate senior vice president for health sciences and vice dean for clinical affairs, Tulane School of Medicine; and Carter K.D. Guice Jr., president, Louisiana Chapter, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

This gift from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is the latest in a series of generous responses from the international cancer community to Tulane's post-Katrina recovery needs.

Others include:
- The National Cancer Institute awarded the Tulane Cancer Center $500,000 to replace research infrastructure, such as refrigerators, freezers and incubators damaged by the storm.

- The Edmond J. Safra Foundation provided $500,000 to create the Edmond J. Safra Faculty Productivity and Retention Fund to address the post-Katrina professional needs of Tulane Cancer Center's faculty.

- The American Society of Hematology donated $75,000 to the Tulane Section of Hematology and Medical Oncology to support faculty and fellows as the section rebuilds. The society also provided travel grants, waived member dues and replaced educational materials for hematology and oncology faculty and trainees.

- The American Association for Cancer Research developed a special "Saving the Science" emergency grant fund that provided travel grants for scientists and clinicians who were forced to relocate their research efforts at other universities.

- The American Society for Microbiology donated $18,000 in association with the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy and GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines to Tulane Cancer Center's Patient Relief Fund to help patients with expenses incurred during the course of their treatment.

- The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation provided: 1,000 pre-paid phone cards to Matthew Burow, assistant professor of medicine in the Section of Hematology and Medical Oncology, and an additional 1,000 to Timothy Pearman, director of Tulane Cancer Center's Patricia Trost Friedler Cancer Counseling Center for distribution to cancer patients; a $30,000 grant for assisting with other patient expenses (transportation, medications, insurance co-payments, groceries, etc.); a $50,000 grant to establish a counselor/patient navigator position at Tulane to assist patients in navigating the post-Katrina medical world both within and outside of New Orleans; and a second $50,000 grant for recovery of Burow's breast cancer research laboratory.

- The Patient Advocate Foundation, in association with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, offers relief grants of up to $1,000 to breast cancer patients displaced due to the storm.

- The American Society of Clinical Oncology provides grants ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 per family for cancer patients affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes. The American Cancer Society provides patient transportation grants as well as college scholarships to cancer survivors in the storm-stricken area.

- The National Cancer Coalition provided $5,000 toward post-Katrina patient assistance.

"This outpouring of support from the cancer community at large is overwhelming," says Roy S. Weiner, director of the Tulane Cancer Center. "In our time of greatest need, we have been bolstered by the thoughts, the prayers, and the resources of friends and colleagues from all over the world. We are eternally grateful for their support."

Melanie Cross is marketing coordinator for the Tulane Cancer Center.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000