DELAWARE, Ohio (May 28) — Leading human papilloma virus (HPV) expert Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, was officially named to the Jeg Coughlin Sr. Chair in Cancer Research during a special ceremony Wednesday night at the Longaberger Alumni House at The Ohio State University.
“This is a dream come true for all of us,” said Coughlin, who was surrounded by his four sons and many members of the extended Coughlin family. “This Chair represents a legacy that will continue forever. Cancer research takes commitment from a financial aspect and more importantly from a research and development side. Dr. Gillison has accomplished so many things already and we truly feel the best is yet to come.”
Gillison recently joined OSU’s staff after a successful stint as associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., where she was a member of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. She now serves as professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology at OSU and is a member of the Cancer Control and Viral Oncology Programs at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“Unfortunately, like so many other families, the Coughlins have been touched by cancer,” Gillison said. “Now, they are a family on a mission. They put the same enthusiasm they bring to racing into cancer research. The Coughlin family has made it possible for me to take my research into a much broader direction and to really think outside of the box.”
Focusing on the role that HPV plays in the development of head and neck cancers, Gillison was the first to identify HPV infection as the cause of certain oral cancers and identified multiple sex partners as the most important risk factor for these cancers. At OSU, Gillison is building a program focused on identifying associations between infections and cancers, with the ultimate goal of applying discoveries to prevent and treat the disease.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology named Gillison’s research on HPV-associated head/neck cancers as one of six major clinical cancer advances of 2007. She is a frequent guest on national television newscasts, a regular on the lecture circuit, and is quoted extensively in a multitude of consumer and medical publications.
The 6-year-old JEGS Foundation established a named endowment in honor of family patriarch Jeg Coughlin Sr. at OSU’s James Cancer Center in 2005. A privately-funded entity, the JEGS Foundation donates 100-percent of its proceeds to OSU’s Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute
Coughlin himself successfully fought bladder cancer, while Team JEGS chef Nicky Morse managed to overcome Hodgkin’s Disease. Sadly, Troy Coughlin’s mother-in-law succumbed to leukemia and John Coughlin’s mother-in-law was lost to brain cancer. Statistically speaking, one in four people contract some form of cancer in their lifetime.
“To do cancer research, to prevent and cure cancer, it requires resources and requires money,” said Dr. Michael A. Caligiuri of the Solove Research Institute, who was on hand for the ceremony. “This is the spark that gets the whole engine moving. The JEGS Foundation has just put together an enormous gift that will end up curing and preventing cancer. It is through charitable contributions like this one that we will find a cure.”
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute is one of only 41 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States and the only freestanding cancer hospital in the Midwest. Funding for cancer research at the OSUCCC has quadrupled over the last 10 years. Ranked among the top 20 cancer hospitals in the nation, The James is the 172-bed adult patient-care component of the cancer program at Ohio State University.
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