$1 Million Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Endowed Chair in Neuroendocrine Cancer at LSU Health Sciences Center
In 2011, the $1 million Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Endowed Chair in Neuroendocrine Cancer at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans was established in order to fulfill Al Copeland, Sr.’s legacy of finding a cure for cancer. The Al Copeland Foundation partnered with LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. Louisiana’s flagship academic medical center and its active and well regarded cancer research enterprise. Research drives all of the advances in cancer treatment and prevention and is the key to a cure. The partnership began with a $300,000 donation from the Al Copeland Foundation, which combined with a $300,000 donation from the Cancer Crusaders and a $400,000 match from the Louisiana Board of Regents, established the $1 million Endowed Chair. LSUHSC began an exhaustive search to find the best candidate as the recipient of the chair. While the principal will never be touched, the interest earned helps to support the work of the chair’s holder, and the prestige and funding that chairs provide are a powerful tool to recruit or retain faculty superstars.
Neuroendocrine tumors are rare tumors that arise from the neuroendocrine cells that are present throughout the nervous and endocrine systems. Neuroendocrine tumors can originate anywhere in the body. Most of the time, they grow slowly and they are often difficult to diagnose. Patients may present with vague symptoms such as flushing, diarrhea, palpitations, cardiac disease or wheezing. Because of the difficulty in diagnosing these tumors, diagnosis is delayed an average of 10 years. Medical students are taught to think horses when they hear hoofbeats, not zebras. But sometimes, as LSUHSC faculty teach, they really do signify zebras, and only if you suspect it, can you detect it.
“I am deeply honored to hold this chair, and I’m so inspired by the community partnerships that made it possible and will continue to be a fundamental part of our success.”
Dr. Agusto Ochoa, MD
Dr. Steve Nelson, Dean of the School of Medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has appointed Augusto Ochoa, MD, Director of the LSUHSC Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, as the recipient of the Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Chair in Neuroendocrine Cancer. The $1 million endowed chair is funded by support from the Al Copeland Foundation and the Cancer Crusaders, which was competitively matched with funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents Endowed Chairs for Eminent Scholars Program.
According to the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Endowed Chairs for Eminent Scholars Program, introduced in 1987, is a highly competitive program designed to enhance the recruitment and retention of distinguished university faculty. The program pairs a 60% private-sector match with a 40% Board of Regents award to endow a chair to be filled by a scholar of high renown and great ability. The funds supporting endowed chairs are invested in an interest-bearing fund in which the principal remains intact while the interest provides a perpetual source of annual income. This income is used to recruit and support the academic and research efforts of an exceptional faculty member – a distinguished leader in his/her field – appointed to this position.
“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,” notes Dr. Steve Nelson, Dean of LSUHSC’s School of Medicine. “We recruited him from the National Cancer Institute where he led the Immunotherapy Laboratory.”
Dr. Ochoa earned his MD from the Universidad de Antioquia in Colombia in 1982. That year, he started a postdoctoral fellowship at the Immunobiology Research Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he became an Assistant Professor in 1986. He served as Head of the Immunotherapy Laboratory for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) from 1989 to 1996 and Head of the NCI Signal Transduction Laboratory from 1996 to 1997 where he designed and led several clinical trials using the patient’s own immune system to treat cancer. At LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, Dr. Ochoa started and leads the cancer immunology program . He is also a professor of Pediatrics and an adjunct associate professor of Biochemistry. Dr. Ochoa is also a practicing physician, specializing in the field of Allergy/Immunology. His research interests include T-cell function, cytokine production, macrophage T-cell interaction, immune regulation, immune dysfunction and disease, as well as tumor immunology. Read More about Dr. Ochoa
The Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Chair in Neuroendocrine Cancer will enhance research on this very rare type of cancer. Merkel cell carcinoma, an aggressive neuroendocrine cancer that grows quickly and spreads at an early stage, took the life of Al Copeland, Sr. in 2008.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Ochoa, an extremely accomplished doctor, has been named the Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Chair recipient,” says Al Copeland Jr., Chairman of the Board and CEO of Al Copeland Investments. “This is a wonderful opportunity for LSU Health Sciences Center to further the research of Neuroendocrine Cancer. We are very excited to see what the future holds for our community and cancer research. ”
“We are grateful to the Louisiana Board of Regents for providing matching funds to complete the Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Chair in Neuroendocrine Cancer at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans,” says Dr. Larry Hollier, Chancellor. “This type of support goes a long way toward helping us attract and keep research superstars working to solve some of medicine’s most devastating diseases.”