Two Cincinnati Businesses Invest Big in the UC Cancer Institute

Ohio National Financial Services, Convergys each give $1M to support bid for NCI designation

CINCINNATI – August 19, 2016 – Two $1 million gifts each from Ohio National Financial Services and Convergys will benefit cancer research, treatment and clinical care at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Cancer Institute, a partnership between the UC College of Medicine and UC Health. The gifts are intended to support efforts to achieve National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation that leads to more research funding, economic growth and better cancer outcomes for patients.

Cancer mortality rates are 25 percent better at NCI-designated centers, which receive more federal research dollars than non-designated centers. Cincinnati is one of only four cities its size that does not have an NCI-designated cancer center – the nearest is more than 80 miles away. NCI designation also benefits local economies, generating billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

“Achieving NCI designation ultimately means we can save more lives,” said William Barrett, MD, director of the UC Cancer Institute. “Commitments from local business partners like Convergys and Ohio National Financial Services are vital to our success in seeking NCI designation. It’s going to take all of us coming together to achieve this distinction and the research funding and economic growth it delivers.”

NCI designation also is contingent on an institute’s ability to attract top talent in the areas of basic research, translational research and clinical care. The $2 million investment from Convergys and Ohio National Financial Services will help recruit a physician scientist to serve as the new division chief of hematology oncology at the UC College of Medicine and will serve as translational research director for the Cancer Institute. He or she will be both a clinician and scientist.

In addition to hiring a new chief, these generous gifts will allow for continued recruitment of numerous researchers and clinicians to support the diagnosis and treatment of solid tumor and blood cell cancers. Researchers will be experts in drug discovery and small molecule clinical development, gene and cellular therapies, cancer etiology, risk prevention and assessment, cancer disparities and health equity.

“Ohio National has been part of the Greater Cincinnati community for more than 100 years, and the Ohio National Foundation is honored to have this opportunity to help support NCI designation,” said Gary T. “Doc” Huffman, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ohio National Financial Services. “This will raise the bar of cancer research, treatment and care and dramatically improve outcomes in Greater Cincinnati.”

Currently, 69 centers in the United States have NCI designation. These centers receive about 70 percent of available federal funding and attract the best and brightest researchers. Last year, a $100 million fundraising campaign was announced to help achieve NCI status within five years.

“We want to make sure no patient should have to leave our region to receive the best cancer care,” said Richard Lofgren, MD, president and CEO of UC Health. “NCI designation will expand treatment options for our patients, including funding more life-saving clinical trials, so the best options are available here at home.”

Ohio ranks seventh in the nation for the number of newly diagnosed cancer patients. About 65,000 Ohioans, or enough people to fill Paul Brown Stadium, will be diagnosed with cancer this year. The Journal of Clinical Oncology predicts a 45 percent increase in cancer incidence by 2030 – translating to more than 90,000 Ohioans diagnosed with cancer.

“NCI designation will help fund translational research that could lead to the next big cancer discovery,” said William Ball, MD, senior vice president for health affairs, Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean of the UC College of Medicine. “These corporate partners are helping bring the best minds in cancer research to Cincinnati, and their work will benefit the Cincinnati area and beyond.”

In 2007, UC, UC Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center joined forces to create the Cincinnati Cancer Center, designed to leverage the strengths of all three organizations to achieve NCI designation and provide the best possible cancer diagnostics, research, treatment and care for the people of Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Cancer Center works side-by-side with the UC Cancer Institute to accomplish this goal.

“Collaboration between UC, UC Health and Cincinnati Children’s results in better cancer outcomes for patients,” said Shuk-Mei Ho, PhD, Director of the Cincinnati Cancer Center. “When the region’s greatest minds in cancer research, treatment and care come together, Greater Cincinnati has its best chance at achieving NCI designation.”

“Private support is critical for the successful pursuit of NCI designation,” said UC Foundation President Rodney Grabowski. “Cincinnati’s vibrant community of socially conscious businesses like Ohio National Financial Services and Convergys make the region a prime candidate for an NCI-designated center.”

Earlier this month, Cincinnati Children’s and UC Health announced the grand opening of the region’s first Proton Therapy Center, a $120 million facility that brings one of the most advanced cancer therapies for pediatric and adult patients to the Greater Cincinnati area. The center is the only one in the world with a specialized gantry (radiation treatment room with a moveable proton beam) dedicated to cancer research. Cincinnati Children’s, UC and UC Health researchers will work with colleagues in Israel, Germany and around the world to find ways to continually improve cancer care with proton therapy.


About the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute
The University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute, a partnership between the UC College of Medicine and UC Health, aims to make the most advanced cancer care readily available to the people in the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. Its highly trained physicians work collaboratively in a multidisciplinary setting to personalize the treatment of every cancer patient. Its researchers are focused on leading-edge basic and clinical research to improve cancer patient outcomes for Greater Cincinnati and beyond. Learn more at

About the University of Cincinnati Foundation
Established in 1975, the University of Cincinnati Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and is the private sector fundraising entity for the University of Cincinnati and UC Health. The foundation supports UC’s aspirations through philanthropic collaboration with the colleges, the Academic Health Center, UC Health and other units to maximize private support. The foundation’s advancement efforts promote the development of productive, enduring relationships with alumni, friends, colleagues, students, foundations, corporations and the Greater Cincinnati community. For more information, please visit

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