$3.35M gift to expand research at Dartmouth's cancer center

Several recent donations totaling $3.35 million will advance immunotherapy research at Lebanon, N.H.-based Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. 

Immunotherapy, a type of treatment that leverages the body's natural defense to ward off cancer cells, is known to have less debilitating side effects than chemotherapy, but its use is still limited.

"These drugs take the brakes off the immune system and allow it to recognize, treat and cure a cancer, just as it would an infection," Steven Leach, MD, director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, said in a Feb. 3 statement. "However, current immunotherapies benefit only a small fraction of patients with cancer." 

With the new gifts, the cancer center aims to ramp up its preclinical and early phase clinical trial capacity, invest in high-potential areas of immunotherapy research, and establish an immunology or oncology-focused professorship at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine. 

The donations were made by Veronica and Paul Guyre, PhD, an immunologist and professor at Geisel and co-founder of Medarex, the company that developed the first successful cancer immunotherapy drugs; Bob Barber, whose wife, Esther, was treated at the cancer center; and Justin and Victoria Hall Gmelich, Dartmouth alumni. 

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