IU School of Medicine receives $14M to create program for cancer patients, families

The Indiana University School of Medicine has been awarded a $14 million gift to create a support program to help cancer patients and their families.

The gift, announced Tuesday, is believed to be the largest in the country to support a program of this kind, the medical school said. It was made by Walther Cancer Foundation, an independent, private grant-making institution named after the late Dr. Joseph E. Walther, a 1936 graduate of the IU School of Medicine and founder of the former Winona Memorial Hospital.

Walther’s wife, Mary Margaret, died from colon cancer, which led him to work for funding cancer research.

The IU medical school will develop the Walther Supportive Oncology Program in partnership with Indiana University Health, the state’s leading academic hospital system.

The medical school said it will use the money to establish five endowed faculty positions, including a program director, a senior leader in psychiatry or psychology who focuses on cancer patients, and three other experts in related positions. The goal of the program is to provide care for a patient’s overall physical, mental and spiritual well-being, including pain management, assistance navigating financial issues, at-home support and nutrition assistance.

“More than 35,000 Hoosiers are diagnosed with cancer each year, and the disease affects each of them in complex and unique ways,” IU President Michael McRobbie said in a statement.

The program will also include an educational component to train the next generation of clinical leaders in supportive oncology.

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