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Children's Mercy & The University of Kansas Cancer Center Unveil New Collaboration to Transform Pediatric Oncology

$10 million in local philanthropic support strengthens KC's role as a national leader, makes new endowed chair positions possible

Taking a big step toward making Kansas City a premier global pediatric research innovation hub, Children’s Mercy and The University of Kansas Cancer Center 

announced four first-of-their-kind endowed chair appointments that will help eliminate childhood diseases around the world. The endowed chair positions focus on Genomics, Health Outcomes, Hematological Malignancies and Immunotherapy.

Made possible by $10 million in philanthropic support from four individual donors and four foundations, including unique gift matches from Donald J. Hall and the Hall Family Foundation, these Children’s Mercy leadership positions will have joint University of Kansas (KU) faculty appointments.

The new endowed chair positions, and the collaboration they promote, have been a key consideration for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in its current evaluation of The University of Kansas Cancer Center for Comprehensive Cancer Center designation as emphasis on pediatric cancer research and treatment has grown. NCI is reviewing KU Cancer Center’s application and will make its Comprehensive Cancer Center announcements later this year. The KU Cancer Center received NCI designation in June 2012, the first step in achieving the nation’s highest standards in cancer research and improved care and treatment.

Leaders at both Children’s Mercy and KU Cancer Center stressed the significance of the endowed chairs to the institutions’ integrated pediatric research efforts, enhanced clinical care for children, advanced pediatric academic development and a shared goal to save children’s lives here and across the globe.

“For our Children’s Research Institute, this is a game-changer, allowing us to offer stellar recruitment packages to attract the best and brightest pediatric research scientists to Kansas City. It’s a privilege to collaborate with KU Cancer Center in this important effort,” said Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, Children’s Mercy’s Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director of the Children’s Research Institute, a Children’s Mercy entity established in July 2015.

Dr. Curran joined Children’s Mercy in February 2016 after an exhaustive national search. His career includes positions with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where he led distinguished, internationally recognized research in brain development and pediatric brain tumors.

“These joint chair appointments are the latest in our endeavor to combine the resources of our powerhouse institutions so that young cancer patients can benefit from a deeper pool of cancer specialists,” said Roy A. Jensen, MD, Director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center. “This is another step forward to unify and strengthen our pediatric treatment and research efforts.”

Dr. Curran said the philanthropic support that made the new endowed chairs possible is helping to put Kansas City on the map as a place where families come to find answers when their children are battling life-threatening illnesses.

“The support we’ve received from generous donors who share our commitment to children’s health made these positions possible. It’s humbling,” he said. “Because of our donors, we can recruit world-renowned scientists who will make discoveries and contributions to pediatric research that could eliminate many of the childhood cancers known today. Imagine families from around the globe coming to Kansas City for innovative cancer treatments. Imagine our local and regional families receiving innovative treatments developed right here before they are widely available. Nowhere else can you find the tremendous community support we have here.”


Recruitment is currently underway for these four new endowed chairs:

  • DeBruce Foundation Endowed Chair in Immunotherapy

    • Made possible by Paul DeBruce and the DeBruce Foundation with a matching gift from the Hall Family Foundation.

  • Stanley H. Durwood Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Outcomes

    • Made possible by a grant from the Stanley H. Durwood Foundation, Trustee Charles J. Egan, Jr., and a matching gift from Donald J. Hall.

  • Roberta D. Harding and William F. Bradley, Jr. Endowed Chair in Genomic Research

    • Made possible by Roberta D. Harding and William F. Bradley Jr. with a matching gift from Donald J. Hall.

  • Schutte/Speas Endowed Chair in Hematologic Malignancies

    • Made possible by the Victor E. and Caroline E. Schutte Foundation Trust E, David W. Frantze and Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustees; and the Victor E. Speas Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee.


About Children’s Mercy Kansas City


Founded in 1897, Children’s Mercy is one of the nation’s top pediatric medical centers. With not-for-profit hospitals in Missouri and Kansas, and numerous specialty clinics in both states, Children’s Mercy provides the highest level of care for children from birth through the age of 21. U.S. News & World Report has repeatedly ranked Children’s Mercy as one of “America's Best Children's Hospitals.” For the fourth time in a row, Children’s Mercy has achieved Magnet nursing designation, awarded to fewer than seven percent of all hospitals nationally, for excellence in quality care. Its faculty of more than 700 pediatric subspecialists and researchers across more than 40 subspecialties are actively involved in clinical care, pediatric research, and educating the next generation of pediatric subspecialists. Thanks to generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children’s Mercy provides medical care to every child who passes through its doors, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. For more information about Children’s Mercy and its research, visit For breaking news and videos, follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.


About The University of Kansas Cancer Center


The University of Kansas Cancer Center, through world-class research, partnerships and patient care, is working toward a world without cancer. KU Cancer Center is one of only 69 NCI-designated centers in the United States. Every day, KU Cancer Center doctors and scientists collaborate on new and more effective drug and treatment therapies to prevent, treat and, ultimately, end cancer. Learn more at