Why can’t we get a straight answer on prostate cancer?

richard shipley The tech financier gave $10.5 million to create a prostate cancer research center on the Medical Campus, along with a comprehensive website with information about treatment options.

Each year, tens of thousands of men sacrifice their prostates on the operating table. The surgery renders many impotent or incontinent. Yet the majority of those diagnosed with prostate cancer would live just as long with no treatment at all, they just don’t know it.

Richard Shipley is hell-bent on changing that.

“It’s Dark Ages medicine,” says Shipley (Questrom’68,’72), who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago. He ultimately sought out a new treatment called focal laser ablation, which is far less invasive and damaging than a prostatectomy. “There are options, good options, that men don’t necessarily hear about and I want to get that message out.”

Last year, the BU trustee gave the School of Medicine $10.5 million to create a prostate cancer research center on the Medical Campus, along with a comprehensive website with information about treatment options. The new center will focus on personalized medicine, finding genomic approaches to better determine which cancers are aggressive and need to be removed or radiated and which can be dealt with less aggressively, eliminating unnecessary procedures with devastating side effects.

A gift
for giving

Last year, generous donors stepped up in a big way. Here are a few highlights:

A total of 2,719 donors from the Class of 2016 raised more than $95,000, a 16 percent jump over the previous year.

The third annual Giving Day shattered fundraising records, with 11,000+ gifts from alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends bringing in $1.5 million in a single day.

Last March, a three-alarm fire caused by an equipment malfunction all but destroyed Boston University’s trailblazing campus radio station, WTBU, and left damages of $500,000. Within eight days, 261 donors had contributed $33,558.61 to get the station back on its feet.

The Harold and Margaret Southerland Alzheimer’s Research Fund, established by Susan and David Caron’s immediate-use gift in support of Alzheimer’s research, will be split between the School of Medicine and the College of Arts & Sciences biology department.

A group of anonymous donors gave $2.5 million to establish the Travis M. Roy Professorship in Rehabilitation Sciences at Sargent College and will also provide Roy’s foundation with office space on campus and a $50,000 annual stipend toward staffing for the next 10 years.

Michael Fricklas (LAW’84) and his wife, orthopedist Donna Astion (SAR’82), always remember how financial assistance got them through BU. They’ve given $1 million to endow scholarship and research funds at the School of Law and Sargent College.

Shipley, who compares his treatment to a lumpectomy versus a radical mastectomy for women with breast cancer, only learned of his option from “Dr. Google.” For doctors, the nature of the disease often makes it difficult to distinguish a slow-growing form of cancer from one that may need more immediate and aggressive attention. Such uncertainty leads to overtreatment and a diminished quality of life.

Shipley, who is the founder of Shiprock Capital, a private equity firm investing in early- and expansion-state technology companies, has allocated $400,000 a year for 15 years to fund research projects, such as developing genetic tests to determine the threat posed by lesions, or blood or urine tests to screen high-risk individuals. His gift will also create an endowed professorship designated as “at any rank”—full, associate, or assistant professor—to allow BU to choose the candidate most at the forefront of the research.

“We are all very excited about this gift, which will catalyze research around determining the optimal treatment for a specific patient,” says Karen Antman, medical school dean and provost of the Medical Campus.