Grantee Profile: UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

Fighting Cancer in the Heart of Carolina

Dr. William Roper, Dean of the School of Medicine, addresses the crowd during the April 23, 2018 announcement of the Pope Foundation's $10 million commitment to Carolina, held at UNC Linebarger in Chapel Hill.
Dr. William Roper, Dean of the School of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill, addresses the crowd during the April 23, 2018, announcement of the Pope Foundation’s $10 million commitment to Carolina.

Cancer touches millions of lives each year, young and old, and can test even the strongest of individuals and families. But those facing cancer have a strong ally right in the heart of North Carolina: the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In the battle against cancer, few research institutions in the United States can match UNC Lineberger’s track record of excellence. Located at UNC-Chapel Hill, Lineberger brings together exceptional physicians and scientists from across the country to investigate and improve the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer.

Established in 1975, UNC Lineberger received official designation as a cancer center from the National Cancer Institute in 1990. A classification awarded to only 41 comprehensive cancer centers nationwide, UNC Lineberger is the only public comprehensive cancer center in North Carolina to have this designation.

The Pope Foundation first supported Lineberger in the 1990s with small gifts to the ‘Seed Grant’ program, innovative funds that allows researchers to develop new and groundbreaking ideas for cancer research, prevention, and early detection. After the late John William Pope, Sr. received his cancer diagnosis, the Lineberger took on deeper personal meaning for the Pope family. Having  experienced all that Lineberger had to offer, the Pope family began considering how they could give back to this world-class research and patient care institute.

Investing in People

As a Tar Heel graduate and North Carolina native, John William Pope was a long time supporter of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including UNC Memorial Hospital. He envisioned that the Pope Foundation would help the fight against cancer in a way that would have an impact and benefit for all North Carolinians.

So in April 2014, the Pope Foundation awarded their first major grant to Lineberger — a $1.3 million gift to create a distinguished professorship in cancer research and a clinical fellows awards program. The distinguished professorship was awarded to Dr. Tom Shea, a professor at the UNC School of Medicine with multiple leadership roles including Associate Director for Clinical Outreach Programs. The clinical awards program has been a success and is presented annually to three scholars who are pursuing research in cancer.

Pope Foundation Board Member Joyce L. Pope and Chairman Art Pope (center), meet with the 2018 'Pope Clinical Fellows' (pictured to the left and right) during the April 23, 2018, announcement of a $10 million commitment to Chapel Hill.
Pope Foundation Board Member Joyce L. Pope and Chairman Art Pope (pictured center), meet with the 2018 ‘Pope Clinical Fellows’ (pictured to the left and right) during the April 23, 2018, announcement of a $10 million commitment to Chapel Hill.

With the first gift established, the Pope Foundation and family then began considering other potential ways to partner with Lineberger. Knowing that the ‘Campaign for Carolina’ fundraising effort announced in late 2017 was critical to the future of UNC-Chapel Hill, the Foundation established a $10 million commitment that included $5 million marked for Lineberger.

On April 23, 2018, Pope Foundation Chairman Art Pope and Board Member Joyce L. Pope joined UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and Vice Chancellor David Routh on campus to announce their major gift commitment to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The $5 million gift will create the ‘Tomorrow’s Best Hope’ endowed fellowship fund. The fund will generate approximately $250,000 a year to award competitive fellowships so that Chapel Hill can continue to recruit and train the best future researchers and doctors.

“My father was passionate about giving to both cancer treatment and research,” said Art Pope. “He was very clear that he wanted any investment we made to stay in North Carolina. These are the kind of projects he would have wanted.”

To read more about the Pope Foundation’s 2018 $10 million commitment to Carolina, read our press release.

To learn more about UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and their world recognized patient care and research, visit their website.

To learn how Dr. Tom Shea is impacting his patients, read our story about his work.