Estee Lauder Chairman Gifts $5M to University of Arizona’s David Alberts to Advance Ovarian Cancer Research

Oct 15, 2019 | Cancer, David S. Alberts, Leading Sites, Oncology, Ovarian Cancer, Site Success, University of Arizona

Leonard A. Lauder, the chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies gave $5 million to the University of Arizona Cancer Center to support the clinical and translational research of Dr. David S. Alberts, an expert in the field of ovarian cancer research and treatment.

Ovarian Cancer

A relatively rare disease, striking 1 in 78 women. Progress has been made by the research from stars such as Dr. Alberts and all of the unsung heroes that constitute the research industry. The survival rate now has increased six fold since Alberts initiated his NCI research in the late 1960s.


University of Arizona News reports that Dr. Alberts was instrumental in not only founding the Cancer Center back in 1976 but also developed the Cancer Prevention and Control Program into one of the nation’s most respected gynecologic cancer and biomarker research centers.

A Guiding Light in Cancer Research

Dr. Alberts has led National Cancer Institute-funded drug and diagnostic research leading to 18 patents and the co-founding of four Arizona-based biopharma ventures.

Although he has been an impressive research force focusing on a range of cancer research from chemoprevention and breast, colon and ovarian to prostate cancers, his main passion has been seeking a cure for ovarian cancer or as he puts it “my guiding light.”

Pioneering New Treatments

Alberts’ research led to new advanced treatments for ovarian cancers such as vitro tumor cell chemosensitivity testing for personalized medicine strategies, intraperitoneal chemotherapy and maintenance chemotherapy.

An Amazing Collaboration

Leonard Lauder, Estée Lauder’s son, lost his wife to ovarian cancer in 2011. It was then when he learned about the great work of Dr. Alberts. Then, in 2016, a longtime friend and business associate, Rose Marie Bravo, was diagnosed with clear cell ovarian cancer, a 5% variant that is very resistant. Lauder referred Ms. Bravo to him at University of Arizona. Ms. Bravo had already received two surgeries from Dr. Konstantin Zakashanky of New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. The two physicians collaborated to treat Ms. Bravo using drugs for individualized therapy–miraculously, she is in complete remission now. Ms. Bravo declares “David is remarkable” and “he never gives up on his patients and always was available to discuss any issue. His collaboration with my primary oncologist, Dr. Zakashanky, was the key.”

More Dr. Alberts Kudos

“This gift is an incredible tribute to Dr. Alberts,” said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation. “I am proud of the role Dr. Alberts and the university played in Ms. Bravo’s treatment, and am grateful to Mr. Lauder for his desire to expand that impact by deepening the research around treatment of women who have drug-resistant clear cell ovarian carcinomas.”

During his career, Alberts has served as an adviser to numerous cancer research foundations and national research committees, such as chair of the Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee to the Food and Drug Administration (1984-1986). He was a member of the NCI’s Board of Counselors (to the Division of Cancer Prevention, 1990-1994), the Board of Scientific Advisors (1999-2006) and the coordinating subcommittee for the NCI’s Clinical Translational Advisory Committee (2006-2009). He served as director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center from 2005-2013, and was granted a director emeritus title by the University of Arizona Health Sciences in 2013. He also was the founder and committee chair of the Gynecologic Cancer Committee (1980-2002) in the Southwest Oncology Group and the Cancer Prevention and Control Committee (1995-2017) in the Gynecologic Oncology Group. In June 2001, the journal Science published that he was, for almost a decade, the third highest funded clinical translational research principal investigator in the U.S., funded by the National Institutes of Health. He is the only scientist to receive both the American Association for Cancer Research’s Joseph H. Burchenal Award (2003) and Pioneer Award in Cancer Prevention (2014). He has published more than 950 scientific editorials and reviews, including 570 peer-reviewed original research articles concerning the prevention and treatment of a wide range of cancers.

Lead Research/Investigator

David S. Alberts 

Call to Action: Do you or a loved one have an ovarian cancer diagnosis? Consider reaching out to the University of Arizona’s David Alberts.


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