Kuni Foundation’s $7.5 million grant to aid OHSU research

Donation to help launch cancer research center, create endowed chair

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

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The Kuni Foundation on Tuesday announced a $7.5 million donation to boost cancer research at Oregon Health & Science University.

The Wayne D. Kuni and Joan E. Kuni Foundation of Vancouver granted $5 million to help the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute launch a lung cancer research center and awarded another $2.5 million to create a prostate cancer research endowed chair for Dr. Joshi Alumkal.

“We are grateful for the innovative, life-saving work of OHSU’s tremendous cancer research team,” said Greg Goodwin, board chair of the Kuni Foundation, in a news release. “Through the work of Dr. Brian Druker and his colleagues at the Knight Cancer Institute, OHSU continues to lead the way in providing ground-breaking treatments and cures to individuals throughout the Pacific Northwest and the world. It’s an honor to support efforts that bring hope to so many.”

The Kuni Foundation was created in 2005 by Wayne Kuni, who founded Vancouver-based Kuni Automotive in 1970.

Alumkal is a former Kuni Scholar — a program created by the foundation to support promising cancer researchers. The foundation’s grant to create the endowed chair position for Alumkal underscores the importance of taking a long-term approach when investing in the talent needed to “move the work from research to discovery in the quest to cure cancer,” the foundation said in the news release.

“This endowed chair is such an honor,” Alumkal said. “The Kuni Foundation and the Kuni family have known me for close to a decade now. I am truly touched that they thought enough of our work to make such a tremendous investment, especially because of all the amazing areas they could have invested in at the Knight Cancer Institute.”

The $5 million contribution to the Knight Cancer Institute will create another endowed chair position — this one for lung cancer research — and enable OHSU to hire additional researchers, according to the foundation.

“The opportunity to build a lung cancer center, and recruit an endowed chair to lead the program, is a special gift,” said Dr. Brian Druker, director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, in the news release. “These funds will fast-track our efforts in research and clinical care for patients suffering from lung cancer.”

Wayne Kuni died from lung cancer in 2006.

The $7.5 million donation is the latest of several contributions from the Kuni Foundation to support cancer research.

Kuni Foundation donated $5 million to OHSU in July 2015 to support the Knight Cancer Challenge. And last December, the foundation created a $50 million fund with the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington to support cancer research and improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities.