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University of Chicago gets $90 million for cancer research

Cancer Research

The University of Chicago is among six institutions sharing a $540 million grant for cancer research from funds established by late real estate magnate Daniel K. Ludwig.

Each center will receive $90 million in new grants from the fund established in 2006, bringing the total bequest to each institution to $150 million, according to Ed McDermott, president and CEO of New York-based Ludwig Cancer Research.

At the University of Chicago, Ludwig’s funds support studies of radiation and hormone therapy, as well as metastasis.

Other centers getting money are Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Ludwig gift comes at a critical time in research, when funds from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other government sources are flagging in proportion to demand, said Robert Weinberg, director of the Ludwig center at MIT. Less than 10 percent of researchers who apply for NIH funds annually get them, he said.

“The NIH granting system is in what might be described as free-fall,” said Weinberg, who is also a biologist at MIT, based in Cambridge, Mass.

Ludwig, who died in 1992, started out in shipping as a young man. His principal business was National Bulk Carriers, which had a fleet of large international tankers. He also invested in a wide variety of real estate deals, including a combined farming and mining operation in rural Brazil, called Jari, which he eventually abandoned because of domestic opposition.

Ludwig Cancer Research established oncology centers at the six institutions in 2006, previously awarding $60 million to each. The funds announced today came from the sale of real estate interests Ludwig held in New York since the 1960s, McDermott said. The principal sources of the money were sales of interests in the Neuberger Berman building on Third Avenue and the AllianceBernstein building on Avenue of the Americas, he said.

New technologies in cell biology, imaging, genomics and other disciplines have made the time ripe for greater strides in fighting cancer, McDermott said. While the gift ends the Ludwig foundation’s contribution to the cancer centers it established at the six institutions, the endowments created will each generate about $4 million to $5 million annually for research, he said.

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