Malnati Brain Tumor Institute Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary at Annual Minds Matter Benefit Dinner
Decade of Fundraising Has Raised More Than $4 Million To Support Brain Tumor Research
In honor of the growth and success of the Northwestern Medicine Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, friends, family, survivors and clinical staff will be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the launch of the institute at the Minds Matter Benefit Dinner at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 11. The fundraiser will highlight the institute’s milestones in research, education and care since its first fundraiser a decade ago at Table Fifty-Two.
“Ongoing financial support from our philanthropic partners of the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital helps to advance medical research that leads to discovery of new diagnostics, treatment protocols and approaches to health-care delivery for patients with brain and spinal cord tumors,” said James P. Chandler, MD, co-director of the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute, surgical director of neuro-oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lavin/Fates professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Without donors’ unwavering support over the last decade, we could not have emerged as one of the leading brain tumor institutes in the country.”
Dr. Chandler and Jeffrey Raizer, MD, launched the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 2008 through a $1.9 million program development grant from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Around the same time, six individuals met periodically to brainstorm “Fund Raizer” ideas, coined after the first neuro-oncologist on staff at Northwestern Memorial, Dr. Raizer.
Mary Dempsey and her husband, Kevin Hitzeman, were founding members and co-chairs for the first Minds Matter Benefit dinner hosted at The Palmer House hotel on September 29, 2009. The benefit dinner was later renamed Minds Matter in 2012.
“Looking back, I can’t believe that we pulled off such a big dinner event in that short amount of time,” said Dempsey. “However, the leadership from the co-directors and a generous grant from the hotel, made the whole night possible.”
In April 2000, Hitzeman was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumor found in the right frontal lobe of his brain. Dempsey recalls how she and her husband felt "alone and a little lost" back then before being introduced to Dr. Raizer.
"It was like the oceans parting," Dempsey recalls. “He understood Kevin and his health concerns.”
Since its inception, the institute has achieved significant milestones. Most notably:
• Over 60 individuals and families have been aided with financial assistance through the Patient and Family Assistance Fund.
• At any given time, there have been 12-15 active brain tumor-related clinical trials in stem cell therapy, immunotherapy, virotherapy, and nanotechnology aimed at improving treatment, outcomes and understanding of these tumors.
• Successful recruitment of world-renowned leaders in neuro-oncology and neurosurgery, most recently the internationally renowned neuro-oncologist Dr. Roger Stupp in April 2017.
• 40 brain tumor projects by over 20 investigators are supported by the Northwestern University Nervous System Tumor Bank, an organized repository of characterized tissue, all of which are aimed at improving the quality of life and therapy options for brain tumor patients.
• A total of $44 million in grants have been received from the National Institutes of Health, which is among the highest amount awarded compared to any other program in the country.
• Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation donates the largest gift since the inception of the institute, renaming it the Northwestern Medicine Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
“The rapid growth and success of the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is a testament to the hard work, generosity and collaboration from everyone who has been involved with the institute,” said Roger Stupp, MD, co-director of the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and professor of medicine (hematology/oncology), neurology and neurological surgery at Feinberg and associate director for strategic initiatives at the Lurie Cancer Center. “We will not stop until one day we achieve our goal of curing brain cancer; however, until then we will fight to control the tumor growth and help make patient’s lives better.”
Dempsey is chairing the benefit again this year. Individual dinner tickets are $400 and must be purchased prior to the event. The night will include a gourmet dinner, Purple Raiz cocktails named in honor of Dr. Raizer and live entertainment by Gentleman of Leisure. Actress, comedienne and television producer Bonnie Hunt will be the master of ceremonies. Hunt was the emcee for the first Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Minds Matter Benefit dinner. Most notably, she was an oncology nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 1982 before she began her career in entertainment. Also included in the night, a fireside chat with Lou Malnati’s wife, Jean Malnati Miller and his son, Marc Malnati. Dr. Chandler will also be participating in the discussion.
Included in the ticket price is also an after-party with complimentary Lou Malnati’s pizza, Insomnia cookies, wine and coffee.
This year’s Minds Matter underwriting sponsor is David Herro and Jay Franke.
About the Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute
The institute was launched in 2008 by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, in partnership with Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, to accelerate efforts to advance research breakthroughs and to improve treatment, outcomes and quality of life for patients with brain and spinal tumors.
To learn more about ticket sales or the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please visit braintumorinstitute.org/minds-matter. Sponsorship opportunities also are available online.
To learn more about Northwestern Medicine, please visit news.nm.org/about-northwestern-medicine.html.