UC Davis Cancer Center's first research endowment was established this summer with a $1.5-million gift from the Auburn Community Cancer Endowment Fund.
The endowment is expected to generate about $60,000 to $70,000 annually to support basic science research at UC Davis Cancer Center.
"This endowment comes at a critical moment in cancer research, with federal support for basic science research flattening even as we get closer than ever before to understanding cancer at the molecular level," said Hsing-Jien Kung, professor of biological chemistry and director of basic science research at UC Davis Cancer Center.
The Auburn campaign got under way in the spring of 2001 when Dick Azevedo, a former mayor, decided to raise money for cancer research. He asked two of his friends, businessman Merv Hall and veterinarian Virgil Traynor, to discuss the idea over a cup of coffee. Each of the three pledged $10,000. The effort expanded from there, eventually touching the entire community.
Inspired by Auburn, several other communities have pledged endowments. The South Placer Breast Cancer Endowment formed last summer. A Butte County group formed this year to fund an endowment for clinical cancer research. And a third group is gearing up in Amador County.
"The Auburn Community Cancer Endowment will reap important scientific, medical and economic dividends for everyone in our region for generations to come," said Ralph deVere White, director of UC Davis Cancer Center and associate dean for cancer programs. "It is a tremendous legacy for the people of Auburn and Placer County and a model for other cancer centers nationwide."