Launching Innovation

Seed Donors Invest in Hope

In 2019, we identified a set of circumstances that presented a unique investment opportunity. An investment opportunity with the potential for our seed-stage funding to return a dividend we could not have envisioned just a few years before. A dividend with payback potential in our lifetime and continuing for generations to come.

Our friend, Pam Kohl, and former executive director of the Susan G. Komen NC Triangle to the Coast Affiliate is waging a personal battle with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). By sharing her professional engagement and her first-hand experience with the fight against MBC, Pam allowed us to see how much progress has been made in the fight against this dreaded diagnosis and made us acutely aware of the impact of there not yet being a cure.

Giving Locally

In support of Pam with her initial breast cancer diagnosis nearly 10 years ago, we first became supporters of Komen as participants in the Race for the Cure. As the years went by and Pam’s cancer returned, we became more engaged in the planning and execution of that important event as volunteers and sustainers. We were pleased to do it for the organization and for our friend but always felt it was never quite enough. We felt a sense of urgency both for Pam now fighting MBC and the too many others like her. We wanted to do something that might significantly speed up the race for a cure.

Pam’s personal experience and professional engagement put her in a position to help us develop an idea. We learned that some of the world’s most prominent MBC researchers were hard at work searching for a cure right here in the Triangle at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her engagement with these researchers, Pam learned that many of these researchers could see the benefit in closer collaboration. Unfortunately, neither program had the means to launch this collaboration.

Making an Impact

That’s when we realized we had found an opportunity to do more than make a donation. We found an opportunity to make an investment with the potential to speed up the search for new treatments and, ultimately, the potential to find a cure for MBC in all its forms. By providing seed-stage funding, we would help launch the Komen MBC Collaborative Research Initiative. This initiative will provide funding and infrastructure allowing the Duke and UNC MBC research programs to collaborate in unprecedented ways. We see the potential for an immeasurable return on our investment.

 – Jean S. Gross & Donald J. Miller, Komen MBC Collaborative Research Initiative Seed Investor