$6.5 Million Gift Establishes Center, Endowment, Fellowship

September 26, 2006

As scientists continue to uncover the lifestyle and genetic factors that play a role in who develops cancer, a $6.5 million gift from the Robert M. Fisher Memorial Foundation, Inc. will ensure Lombardi continues to lead the country in cancer research, patient care, and educational programs. As part of the gift, Lombardi will be among the first cancer centers in the country to have every new patient complete an automated familial risk profile upon patient registration, allowing doctors to more easily identify and counsel individuals who have a high probability of developing cancer at an earlier stage. 

Additionally, the gift will support research in the new field of arts in healthcare.  Current research has suggested that the arts are a safe, cost effective intervention that complement traditional medicine and enhances treatment compliance. The Arts and Humanities Program at Lombardi will study the impact of writing and other arts on the emotional coping of cancer patients.

Honoring a Longtime Volunteer
The Robert M. Fisher Memorial Foundation, Inc. gift honors Cecilia “Cookie” Fisher Rudman, a volunteer at Lombardi for nearly eight years, who died Oct. 2, 2002, at the age of 58. A major part of her volunteer work included working on a landmark clinical trial, the P1 Prevention Trial, which led to the FDA approval of the use of tamoxifen as a preventative treatment for breast cancer.

The Robert M. Fisher Family Foundation was established in the late 1960s in memory of Cecilia’s twin brother, Robert, who died at a young age. Cecilia administered the foundation, which was established to support the family’s philanthropic interests and to continue the pattern of philanthropy her family established.

Expanding Education at Lombardi
The gift also establishes the Jess and Mildred Fisher Cancer Genetics Fellowship for newly graduated genetic counselors to train at Georgetown for an intensive three-month summer program. The fellowship will combine training in clinical cancer genetics,
behavioral science and exposure to basic science and clinical medicine with Lombardi faculty mentors.

Gift Enhances Unique Lombardi Arts Program
The Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program is one of the oldest and most distinguished arts in healthcare programs in the United States. $1.5 million from the Fisher Foundation will expand the programs,
services and research currently supported.

The gift will serve the Lombardi and Georgetown University Hospital communities by providing access to arts programs for patients and caregivers, as well as education about the benefits of the arts in
healthcare to medical professionals. The Arts and Humanities Program presents all of the arts—music, visual art, writing, dance and theater—to demonstrate their value as tools for self expression, coping and communication.

“When we meet emotional needs, our patients find the strength and courage to transcend the effects of cancer,” said Nancy Morgan, MA, director of the program. “We are very grateful to the Fisher Foundation for their generosity and sensitivity to the needs of cancer patients and those that care for them."

Author: Allison T. Whitney