Livestrong Foundation to donate $50 million to UT medical school

Aug 19, 2014
Austin American Statesman

A $50 million donation from the Austin-based Livestrong Foundation has put the University of Texas over its goal of raising $3 billion and will fund an innovative cancer unit at UT’s Dell Medical School, officials said Tuesday

The foundation’s gift, to be paid over a 10-year period, will establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes, whose programs will focus not on treating the disease but on developing and promoting a broad approach to helping patients and their loved ones navigate it. That will include help in understanding insurance, signing up for clinical trials, connecting with other patients who received similar diagnoses and dealing with other practical, psychological and social challenges

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation previously donated $50 million to the medical school, which, in turn, was named for the computer executive and his wife. UT President Bill Powers said the Livestrong gift will get the school “solidly embarked on a very important and essential part of health care”

The Livestrong donation marks something of a new era for the charity since it parted ways nearly two years ago with cyclist Lance Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer and went on to win the Tour de France seven times, only to see those titles stripped from him for doping. Armstrong helped establish the foundation in 1997. The $50 million dwarfs all previous Livestrong donations to any single entity

The foundation has raised more than $580 million to support people affected by cancer since its inception. It reported $38.1 million in total revenue and $106.6 million in net assets for 2012 but hasn’t released figures for 2013 — the year that Armstrong admitted using performance-enhancing drugs. However, Greg Lee, the foundation’s chief financial officer, estimated that revenues were down by 15 to 17 percent, owing to a dip in contributions and cancellation of some corporate sponsorships

UT officials say the Dell Medical School’s Livestrong unit will dovetail nicely with the school’s mission of developing innovative and effective methods of health care. Johnston said the unit would not be a treatment center, adding that there are plenty of “great practitioners” in Central Texas for most types of cancer. Rather, the Livestrong unit’s teaching and research will focus on developing a “patient-centered” model of care that can be replicated in Texas and beyond

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