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Pope Foundation Funds Cancer Research Professorship

johnwilliampopefoundationThe John William Pope Foundation has made a $1.3 million gift to UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to fund cancer research and treatment.

The bulk of the gift will fund the creation of the John William Pope Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Research, and $300,000 will be used to fund the John William Pope Clinical Fellows Awards Program.

“My father was passionate about giving to both cancer treatment and research, and that’s exactly what these gifts do,” said Art Pope ’78, chair and president of the foundation. “He was very clear that he wanted any investment we made to stay in North Carolina. These are the kind of projects he would have wanted.”

The Pope family, mostly through the foundation named for John William Pope ’47, has given millions of dollars over the years to the University, both on the academic side and to athletics. Most recently, the foundation gave $3 million to open the 29,000-square-foot John W. Pope Student-Athlete Academic Support Center within the Loudermilk Center for Excellence in Kenan Stadium.

Art Pope now is the state’s budget director, and in March he was critical of the UNC System’s budget request, saying it was not in line with an intent to keep budget growth at no more than 2 percent.

Of the gift to Lineberger, medical school dean and UNC Health Care CEO Dr. William Roper said: “Private funds to support both established faculty and junior researchers are critical as we develop the best and brightest physicians. With this gift, we will continue conducting groundbreaking cancer research and delivering outstanding cancer care in North Carolina.”

Lineberger will nominate Dr. Thomas Shea ’74 to be the first recipient of the new professorship. Shea, who also received his medical degree from UNC in 1978, was one of the late John William Pope’s physicians when Pope was treated for cancer in 2006, and he is regarded as an international leader in the care of patients with hematologic malignancies. Shea is the director of the UNC Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program and UNC Lineberger associate director of clinical outreach.

“I hope to expand our research surrounding hematologic malignancies and lay the foundation for continued excellence in our transplant and blood cancer initiatives,” Shea said.”

The John William Pope Clinical Fellow Awards Program will support annual awards to three outstanding clinical fellows, judged by the faculty on the basis of their extraordinary clinical or translational cancer research during their postgraduate clinical training.

“We wanted to make sure that while we were investing in an established investigator, we were also investing in young investigators,” said Joyce L. Pope ’08, vice president of the foundation.


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