Andy Sabin, of East Hampton, N.Y., has committed $30 million -- the philanthropist's largest grant to date -- to support research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The gift, through the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, establishes the Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship Program and an endowment that in its first year will fund up to eight two-year research fellowships at $100,000 each. The purpose of the program is to support the brilliant ideas of world-class cancer researchers in fundamental science, translational and population science research.
"This transformational gift will nurture the genius and excellence of outstanding young scientists willing to push the boundaries in our quest to end cancer," said Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson. "The vision of Andy Sabin and his family will have a positive, far-reaching impact for generations to come. On behalf of my colleagues at MD Anderson and the patients we serve, we extend our sincere thanks for this forward-thinking contribution. Andy Sabin is my hero -- a great philanthropist, environmentalist, free spirit and visionary with a heart of gold."
The Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship Program encourages creative, independent thinking and high-risk, high-impact research. It will foster researchers whose work has superlative merit and who demonstrate the potential for continued, enhanced contributions toward MD Anderson's mission to end cancer. It is anticipated that up to eight Sabin Fellows will be funded initially, but the total number of awards will depend on the merits of each application.
"I wanted to provide a vehicle so that highly qualified researchers at the world's premier cancer center don't have to spend 50 percent of their time fundraising in order to sustain innovative projects," said Sabin, who has served on the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors since 2005 and is president of Sabin Metal Corporation, the largest privately owned precious metal refiner and recycler in the country. "Through this program, they have the opportunity instead to focus on important work that can truly help people who suffer from cancer."
The gift will help MD Anderson researchers make substantial strides in the fight against cancer, said Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D., executive vice president and provost of MD Anderson.
"Without the intellectual curiosity of leading young researchers who have the means to explore nontraditional solutions, progress in the fight against cancer will remain slow," said Dmitrovsky. "The Andrew Sabin Family Foundation's legacy gift will help advance research that can mean real hope for cancer patients and their loved ones. We are grateful to Andy Sabin and his family for this opportunity to enable outstanding scientists to strive toward achieving our collective goal to end cancer."
Sabin devotes much of his time and energy to advocating on a national level for increased cancer research funding. He also is widely known as an avid environmentalist, conservationist and wildlife enthusiast --to the extent that four species -- two frogs, in Peru and New Guinea; a lemur, in Madagascar; and a chameleon, in Tanzania -- are named after him.
"Having a species named after you ensures your name will live in perpetuity," said Sabin. "Likewise, this fellowship program at MD Anderson will be there in perpetuity. I hope one of the fellows comes up with a cure. It would make me very proud to know that this gift made a difference."
Applications for the inaugural fellowships, to be announced in early 2016, are currently being accepted.