April 2014

Gala Draws Support for UConn Health

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

Nearly 900 supporters celebrated UConn Health at the fifth annual White Coat Gala at the Connecticut Convention Center on April 12. The event brought donors, alumni and students together with faculty and University dignitaries—President Susan Herbst, Provost Mun Choi, deans from across the University and Athletic Director Warde Manuel—to support UConn Health and the University’s health science programs. Proceeds benefited UConn Health’s expansion initiatives through Bioscience Connecticut.

UConn Health is at the forefront in personalized medicine and endeavors to be a leader in bioscience research and innovation. Through Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health is building new patient care facilities, renovating state-of-the-art research laboratories, expanding academic facilities, and creating new programs with community partners to improve patient care.

“UConn Health is leading the way into the next frontier. With the state’s investment in Bioscience Connecticut, we are becoming a national model for medicine that is personalized for each patient. Through our partnerships with Jackson Lab, the pharmaceutical industry, and private foundations, we are bringing leading researchers together for groundbreaking discovery,” said Herbst.

Carole and Ray Neag ’56 ’01H presented the Carole and Ray Neag Medal of Honor to three recipients selected for their outstanding contributions to UConn Health and the field of medicine.

  • Richard and Jane Lublin are dedicated partners in the fight against cancer through their generous support of cutting-edge research at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Lublins are also founding title sponsors of the White Coat Gala for the last five years.
  • President of the UConn Health Center Auxiliary Irene Engel, RN, BS, CNA has dedicated nearly 50 years to UConn Health through her professional service, volunteerism and philanthropy.
  • Cigna supports the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center through the Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk, and funds graduate fellowships to research people’s health care decisions. UConn’s partnership with Cigna has also created the Cigna Innovation Lab and the Digital Media Center at the Storrs campus.

The audience also heard from special guest speaker Abigail O’Brien, a 37-year-old breast cancer survivor and mother of three young children. O’Brien shared her poignant personal story of working with the caring physicians, nurses and staff at UConn Health throughout her treatment. Now in recovery, O’Brien was inspired to join the UConn Foundation as a fundraiser to raise support for the faculty and institution that saved her life.

Following the awards ceremony, Herbst called Dr. Pramod Srivastava, director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, to the stage to make a surprise announcement. Srivastava thanked the Neags for making the single largest gift toward research in UConn Health’s history earlier this month. The Neags’ commitment will fund research that will benefit patients at UConn Health and around the world. Srivastava is launching a clinical trial later this year using patients’ own DNA to create personalized treatments for ovarian cancer.

“Carole and Ray, you know what it takes to build hope,” said Herbst, and recognized the Neags’ visionary leadership. “Our groundbreaking clinical trials in cancer immunology and personalized medicine have the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment. We are so grateful for your incredible support for our bioscience research and advancements.”

The White Coat Gala was generously supported by founding title sponsors Richard and Jane Lublin, lead corporate sponsor Cigna, presenting sponsors Stanley Black & Decker and Webster Bank, and many other dedicated sponsors. Media sponsorship was generously provided by the Hartford Courant and FoxCT.

View a slideshow of the event!

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Gift from Neags Supports Cancer Research and Treatment

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

UConn Health received a gift of $3 million from Ray and Carole Neag, the University’s most generous benefactors, to expand its groundbreaking research on genomics-guided cancer treatment, which has great promise for developing innovative therapies for fighting the disease.

The gift, which was announced  to great applause at the April 12 annual fundraising event, the White Coat Gala, will support research at the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center to develop new medical treatments tailored to each patient’s unique genetic makeup.

“UConn Health is pioneering the science of personalized medicine across a wide spectrum of diseases and conditions. The generosity of our great friends, Carole and Ray Neag, will foster research in the area of personalized treatments for cancer, providing hope and cure for our region and beyond,” says Dr. Frank M. Torti, UConn Health’s executive vice president for health affairs, dean of the UConn School of Medicine and a nationally prominent physician-scientist in cancer research.

The gift will be used to establish the Neag Cancer Immunology Translational Research Program in the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health and to support clinical trials and supporting activities in cancer immunology based on original research at UConn Health.

“This gift is yet another example of the thoughtful and visionary generosity so characteristic of Carole and Ray Neag. Through it, they are not only supporting us, but also challenging us to rise to the demands of our times and fulfill one of our core missions, research,” says Pramod Srivastava, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“It will enable UConn to become a national leader in personalized, genomics-guided immunotherapy of human cancer while recognizing the traditional excellence of cancer immunotherapy at UConn Health,” says Srivastava, who will become the director of the Neag Cancer Immunology Translational Research Program. He is launching a clinical trial later this year using patients’ own DNA to create personalized treatments for ovarian cancer.

“The concept of success in the treatment of cancer is extremely personal.  Through research and individualized therapies, a bright beacon is shining through,” says Carole Neag.

The Neag gift advances the Bioscience CT initiative, which was approved by the state legislature in 2011 to significantly expand bioscience research and education at UConn Health and across the University.

Thanks to rapid advances in technology, it is possible to identify a person’s unique genome or collection of genes, which differ from person to person by millions of variations. Researchers believe many of these variations affect an individual’s susceptibility to disease and response to treatment. Greater understanding of individual genomes is allowing scientists to begin to individualize treatment and prevention strategies tailored to each patient’s unique genome.

The Neags are the most generous donors in the history of the University, making transformative gifts to the Neag School of Education and to UConn Health to establish the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. They have also given generously of their time, serving on boards and committees for both the University and the Foundation.

Ray Neag, a 1956 graduate of UConn, is the retired co-founder, vice chairman and director of Arrow International, Inc. UConn honored him with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2001.”

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Fusco Forum Brings Hillary Clinton to UConn

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

< 1 min read

Physical evidence of the Fusco Corporation’s 90 years of success abounds, thanks to the many schools, office buildings, sports facilities and health care and government structures that dot the landscape throughout Connecticut and the Northeast.

Now, the construction and property management company is leaving its mark on the cultural landscape, thanks to a generous gift to the University of Connecticut establishing the Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum that brings outstanding scholars, leaders and policy makers to the Storrs campus to share their knowledge and perspectives.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s appearance in Storrs was sponsored by the Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, noted author, presidential historian and political pundit, launched the Forum in 2012, with a presentation on American presidents.

“We are delighted that our gift supports one of UConn’s most important roles: advancing public conversation on important issues in an environment of intellectual honesty and civility,” says Edmund Fusco, speaking for himself and his wife Mary.

“We are honored by the Fuscos’ generous gift, which allows us to bring important speakers and topics to our campus and discuss them with thoughtfulness and respect,” says President Susan Herbst.

The forum, which was free for students, faculty, staff and other members of the UConn Community, filled the 2,300 seat Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts.

The Fusco Organization, headquartered in New Haven, is a privately owned family business, which operates simultaneously and successfully in the spheres of commercial construction, property management and development.  Since its founding in 1924, three generations of the Fusco family have steered the company through thousands of projects.

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