CONTACT: CAROL JEFFERSON
Director of Development
UI Cancer Center
UI Foundation News
500 Levitt Center for University Advancement
Iowa City IA 52242
Holden Foundation of Williamsburg makes gift for UI cancer research
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A Williamsburg family that founded an agricultural
company specializing in corn genetics has given a generous gift to benefit
University of Iowa research into developing therapies for treating cancer
The Ruby and Roland Holden Foundation made the gift to establish the
Roland W. Holden Family Program for Experimental Cancer Therapeutics at
the University of Iowa Cancer Center and the UI department of internal
medicine in the College of Medicine. The Holden Foundation made an outright
cash gift and pledged an additional amount each year for five years.
The Holden Family Program will support cancer research that ranges from
the design and synthesis of new chemicals to testing therapeutic agents
in humans. The gift will be used to purchase research equipment and supplies,
to fund stipends for researchers, and support other projects related to
Half a million Americans, including 6,800 Iowans, will die from cancer
this year, according to national statistics.
Dr. Raymond J. Hohl, associate professor of internal medicine and pharmacology
at the UI College of Medicine, has been named director of the Holden Family
Program for Experimental Cancer Therapeutics. "Private funding, such
as the generous gift from the Holden family, is critical to future successful
cancer research," Hohl said. "With advances in technology and
investigative techniques, I'm optimistic that we can save many lives in
the coming years. We're grateful to the Holdens for widening that circle
of opportunity and for taking a step toward linking laboratory research
to patient care, giving Iowans access to treatments relatively close to
Dr. Hohl's current research program is nationally recognized as one
that develops new strategies to interfere with an important pathway that,
when abnormal, promotes the conversion of normal cells to those that display
cancerous features. Abnormalities in this pathway contribute to the development
and progression of nearly half of all human cancers. Hohl's program is
considered to be highly translational because it not only develops new
strategies in the laboratory but applies or "translates" these
strategies into human clinical trials.
The UI Cancer Center's mission is four-fold, encompassing research,
clinical care, education and prevention. Faculty members at the Cancer
Center and UI College of Medicine have a strong record of external grant
support for specific research projects, but additional funding is needed
to help physicians and researchers translate laboratory results to medication
and treatment for children and adults, Hohl said. Private resources,
such as the Holden gift, help bridge the gap, Hohl noted. Ruby Holden's
husband, Roland, died of leukemia in 1995. Ruby's father and brother also
died of leukemia, and her sister was treated for breast cancer. "Cancer
has eaten away at our family. It has consumed us in so many ways,"
she said. "I hope we can someday say our family played a role in
finding a cancer cure."
Other family members participating in the gift and pledge are Ron, Arlene,
and Kathy Holden, Susan and David McCurry, Karol Holden, and Mary and Curt
Roland W. Holden started Holden's Foundation Seeds in 1937 in Williamsburg.
Holden's produces corn germ plasm for sale and use by retail seed companies.
Retail seed companies use Holden genetics to produce hybrids that are
packaged and sold to farmers.
The Monsanto Company bought Holden's Foundation Seeds in 1997. Holden's
Seeds continues to operate as a self-contained unit within Monsanto, employing
more than 100 people in Williamsburg and other research locations.
The Holden Foundation encourages contributions from other donors to
add to the endowment established for this research program.
The UI Foundation is the preferred channel of support for private contributions
to all areas of the University of Iowa. Foundation staff members work
with alumni and friends to provide support for a broad range of projects
and programs at the University of Iowa.