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Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center receives largest individual gift for glioblastoma research

The Jennifer Oppenheimer Cancer Research Initiative will be established from the largest individual gift to glioblastoma research in DF/BWCC’s history.

The Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) proudly announces a groundbreaking gift from Oppenheimer Generations Foundation to create The Jennifer Oppenheimer Cancer Research Initiative. This new translational research initiative will address key obstacles across the continuum of care facing patients with glioblastoma—including surgery, new drug development, and palliative care.

Jonathan Oppenheimer made the gift in memory of his late wife, Jennifer Oppenheimer, who passed away from glioblastoma in May 2017. During her illness, Jennifer was treated by David Reardon, MD, clinical director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology, James Tulsky, MD, chair of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, and Alexandra Golby, MD, director of image-guided neurosurgery.  

“My family and I are grateful for the kind and expert care Jennifer received at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center during the most challenging and difficult time of our lives,” says Jonathan. “Jennifer was a powerful and vibrant force for good who touched the lives of thousands through her extensive advocacy for civil society organizations. This gift is a way to give back to the physicians who took care of her while also honoring and carrying forth her work to help others.”

The Jennifer Oppenheimer Cancer Research Initiative is the Oppenheimer family’s first major gift to DF/BWCC and is the largest individual gift to glioblastoma research in DF/BWCC’s history. Jonathan is a South African businessman and philanthropist. He began his career at NM Rothschild & Sons before moving to Anglo American and subsequently De Beers, where he held several senior management roles in Southern Africa and London for more than two decades. He founded Oppenheimer Partners in 2017 to create an investment group with a focus on emerging markets and Africa in particular.

“This gift is a meaningful way to honor the remarkable life of Jennifer ‘Fern’ Oppenheimer. We are grateful for Mr. Oppenheimer’s leadership and generosity, which will make a substantial difference for people facing the difficult diagnosis of glioblastoma,” says Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, president and CEO, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “This initiative will support game-changing advances in research and care for one of our toughest cancer challenges, and importantly, will also help improve palliative care for a wide range of cancer patients.”

Betsy Nabel, MD, president of Brigham Health, adds, “We are honored and humbled by Jonathan’s gift and his trust in us to honor Jennifer’s memory by bringing resources and hope to thousands of patients and families who are living with a glioblastoma diagnosis. His generosity and vision will lead to new ways of understanding and treating this devastating disease.”

Glioblastoma is a central nervous system tumor. It is formed in the supportive tissue of the spinal cord and brain and is typically found more often in adults. It is an astrocytic tumor, which means it begins in the star-shaped cells in the brain called astrocytes.

Glioblastomas are the most common primary cancer of the brain and the most aggressive type of brain tumor. There are 13,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. The most common length of survival following diagnosis is 12 to 15 months, with fewer than 3 to 5 percent of people surviving longer than five years.

Leaders of The Jennifer Oppenheimer Cancer Research Initiative will include world-renowned clinician scientists:

  • Nino Chiocca, MD, PhD, chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Alexandra Golby, MD, director of image-guided neurosurgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • William Hahn, MD, PhD, chief research strategy officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • David Reardon, MD, clinical director, Center for Neuro-Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • James Tulsky, MD, chair, Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; chief, Division of Palliative Care, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Posted on September 04, 2019

  • Research
  • Glioblastoma
  • Brain Tumors

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