Columbia’s Cancer Center Receives $40 Million Gift

Columbia University Medical Center’s Leading Benefactors Have Committed Nearly $200 Million to CUMC & NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia

New York, NY (June 4, 2012) — Herbert and Florence Irving, Columbia University Medical Center’s leading benefactors, have given an additional $40 million to support Columbia’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC). With this new gift, Mr. and Mrs. Irving have generously committed nearly $200 million to CUMC and its partner, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, of which $177 million has supported the HICCC and other cancer-related programs.

This most recent gift from Mr. and Mrs. Irving highlights one of the most successful fundraising years in CUMC history. Fundraising in the current fiscal year is expected to raise more than $200 million. This builds on the continuing success of the CUMC capital campaign, which has raised more than $1.8 billion—almost double the original goal of $1 billion.

“Having people like Herb and Florence Irving loyally support our University is a great privilege,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. “As an institution, we are known in part through the people who are our friends and partners. And Herb and Florence stand out as the best of friends and best of partners in our commitment to saving lives and finding cures.”

“Columbia University—especially our Cancer Center—is forever indebted to Herbert and Florence Irving for their ongoing loyalty and generosity,” said Lee Goldman, MD, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center. “This gift showcases their unwavering support and commitment to our medical research. With their continuing support of our Cancer Center, Mr. and Mrs. Irving have secured their legacy as among the nation’s leading supporters in the fight against cancer.”

The new grant will be used by HICCC Director Stephen G. Emerson, MD, PhD, to recruit and retain new cancer investigators and to support its current investigators, as well as for Cancer Center operations. The HICCC encompasses all cancer-related pre-clinical and clinical research, prevention, patient care, and education at Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia. It is one of only three National Institutes of Health–designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in New York State.

“As our investigators work to bring new advances to cancer patients and their families—building upon the highly promising cancer research discoveries of the past two decades—this extraordinarily generous support from Mr. and Mrs. Irving will go a long way toward expanding our research enterprise, so that we might develop new, better ways both to detect cancer in earlier stages and to treat it in targeted, more efficient ways,” said Dr. Emerson, who holds the Clyde ’56 and Helen Wu Professorship in Immunology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“Columbia’s top-notch researchers and their devotion to bettering the lives of our world’s citizens through medical advancements are what move Florence and me to continue to support their work,” said Mr. Irving. “The global prevalence of cancer—and how it robs people of precious time with loved ones and their ability to achieve personal goals—is what motivates us to support Columbia’s efforts to eradicate cancer and its devastating effects on families.”

“Herb and Florence are not only the most important benefactors of our Medical Center, they are visionaries. We are grateful for the lasting and meaningful ways that they have contributed to the greatness of our institution,” said Robert Kasdin, senior executive vice president of Columbia University. “And those of us who are lucky enough to know them personally always come away from speaking with them feeling that they have added to our lives—through their allegiance, through their humor and through their incredible intelligence.”

The series of major gifts from Herbert and Florence Irving in support of CUMC’s research, patient care, and education mission dates back nearly three decades, beginning with their 1987 endowment of the Irving Scholars program for young clinical investigators who are at the beginning of their careers. The program recently named its 100th scholar. Their support has also established the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research; the Herbert Irving Pavilion, a clinical building on the NYPH/CUMC campus; and the Irving Cancer Research Center, a 300,000-square-foot cancer research and education facility.

Mr. Irving is a co-founder and former vice chairman of Sysco Corporation, a Fortune 500 company that is the largest marketer and distributor of food service products in the United States.

The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) of Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is dedicated to the cure of cancer through innovative basic, clinical and population-based research and outstanding patient care. HICCC researchers and physicians are dedicated to understanding the biology of cancer and to applying that knowledge to the design of cancer therapies and prevention strategies that reduce its incidence and progression and improve the quality of the lives of those affected by cancer. Initially funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1972 and designated comprehensive in 1979, the HICCC is one of 41 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, of which only three are in New York State. The designation recognizes the Center’s collaborative environment and expertise in harnessing translational research to bridge scientific discovery to clinical delivery, with the ultimate goal of successfully introducing novel diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive approaches to cancer. For more information, visit

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest in the United States.

Media Contact: Elizabeth Streich, 212-305-3689,