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Donors Pool Resources to Find a Cure

This year alone, more than 1.6 million Americans will learn they have cancer and almost 600,000 will lose their lives to the disease, numbers so high it is nearly impossible to find someone untouched by cancer.

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Legendary entrepreneur and restauranteur Al Copeland received his devastating diagnosis of Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare and very deadly neuroendocrine cancer, in 2007. On his deathbed, he asked his children to help find a cure for cancer, and the Al Copeland Foundation (ACF) was born.

Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Director of the LSU Health Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, takes a time out to join Al Copeland, Jr as he prepares food for the Annual Fried Chicken Festival, which benefits the Cancer Center’s immunotherapy program.

Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Director of the LSU Health Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, takes a time out to join Al Copeland, Jr as he prepares food for the Annual Fried Chicken Festival, which benefits the Cancer Center’s immunotherapy program.

The Cancer Crusaders share Al’s vision: an end to cancer-related deaths. The Crusaders are an all-volunteer group that raises funds throughout the year and then shares all 100% of the proceeds between the LSU Health Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center and Tulane’s Cancer Center – an astounding $1.6 million to the SSSCC since 1996.

These two groups came together to create the Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Endowed Chair in Neuroendocrine Cancer. Endowed chairs provide a permanent funding source to recruit the best and brightest to the University. Because this endowed chair is a Board of Regents matched chair, ACF and Cancer Crusader gifts of $600,000 have been matched with a public investment of $400,000, creating a $1 million endowment – a tremendous return on investment for any investor and a powerful recruiting tool.

Dr. Augusto Ochoa is a preeminent scientist whose contributions include discovering signature changes in the immune system that indicate cancer has blocked the body’s protective immune response allowing it to grow and spread.
Steve Nelson MD,
Dean of LSU Health School of Medicine

Dr. Augusto Ochoa was recruited from the National Cancer Institute where he led the Immunotherapy Laboratory and was appointed to the chair in 2011. He quickly began building the Cancer Center’s immunology program. Scientists are only beginning to understand how to apply immunotherapy to cancer treatment and patient care. It uses the patient’s own immune system to attack cancer cells more effectively and with far less toxicity. Doctors are hopeful this approach might be useful against Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) and other cancers, especially since this cancer now appears to be linked to a viral infection.

Dr. Ochoa was one of 28 scientific experts, cancer leaders and patient advocates from around the country appointed to the Moonshot Task Force, which was created to help guide the scientific direction of ending cancer as we know it. Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his beloved son Beau to cancer in 2015, is in charge of this new national effort which seeks to double the rate of progress toward a cure – to make a decade of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care in five years.