In 2005 Everett High School graduate Ben Ivy died from brain cancer, the same glioblastoma condition that recently ended the lives of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and famed columnist Robert Novak.
On Oct. 22, his family’s philanthropic nonprofit — the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation
in Palo Alto, Calif. — donated $4 million to establish a major brain cancer research project in Seattle in partnership with the (Paul) Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Swedish (Hospital) Neuroscience Institute’s new Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment.
The multimillion-dollar grant will go research led by Dr. Greg Foltz, co-director of the Ivy Center and a principal investigator in the field of neuro-oncology and genomics in the United States.
Foltz is well known in Snohomish County for his 2008 presentation to the Everett Rotary Club on brain cancer research. A highlight of his program was the announcement that he will be working with the new Providence Regional Cancer Partnership in Everett, housed in a recently opened $62 million treatment center, and on the staff of The Everett Neurological Center headed by Dr. Sanford Wright Jr.
Other members of Foltz’s the Pacific Northwest Brain Tumor Alliance include Swedish Medical Center, Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Arnold Cancer Institute, Providence Everett Medical Center, Institute for Systems Biology and the Paul Allen Institute for Brain Science.
The Ivy grant is part of the continued funding for research known as the Ivy Glioblastoma Atlas Project (GAP), focused on unlocking the secrets behind one of the deadliest brain tumors known to humankind—glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
The Ivy GAP will show which genes are active – or not functioning normally – within a GBM tumor at a level of detail not previously possible. This is important because the development of better therapies depends on understanding the key molecular changes that drive brain tumor behavior. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve disease management in GBM patients, as well as facilitate breakthroughs in drug development and treatment. Researchers expect that these breakthroughs could accelerate the effort to develop improved patient prognoses.