MD Anderson gets $20M gift to boost neurodegenerative research

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has received a $20 million gift from a longtime donor that will go toward advancing research on Alzheimer's and other types of neurodegenerative diseases. 

The donation from the family of Robert Belfer brings the family's total contribution to MD Anderson to $53.5 million over the past decade. The top-ranked cancer center said the gift will be matched through institutional philanthropic efforts, which will also support age-associated disease research efforts. 

The gift will support work through the Belfer Neurodegeneration Consortium, or BNDC, which was established in 2012 to translate findings on the underlying biology of neurodegenerative diseases into therapeutic options. The consortium is a collaborative initiative involving several other institutions, including Houston-based Baylor College of Medicine. 

The latest gift will support the consortium's goal of developing five new treatments for Alzheimer's disease and related disorders over the next decade, including two that demonstrate clinical efficacy.

"Our goal is ambitious, but having access to the vast clinical trial expertise at MD Anderson ensures our therapeutics can improve the lives of patients everywhere," Jim Ray, PhD, executive director of the BNDC, said in a news release. "The key elements for success are in place: a powerful research model, a winning collaborative team and a robust translational pipeline, all in the right place at the right time."

The consortium's research is part of MD Anderson's therapeutics discovery division. Its work is expected to support advancements in cancer care as well, given cancer shares biological similarities with certain neurodegenerative diseases.

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