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Tim Duncan donates $247,000 to fund San Antonio cancer research

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The San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project has received a landmark donation from Tim Duncan through his foundation and car shop.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Spurs fans are used to touting the team and players as special -- different from your average NBA organization. And maybe it's true that San Antonio gets credit for doing things that the rest of the league does.

But this is different.

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from an official Spurs press release
San Antonio Spur, Tim Duncan, through the Tim Duncan Foundation and Blackjack Speed Shop, has made a landmark donation of $247,000 to the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project, a Texas not-for-profit 501 (c) (3), Open Science research project launched in 2012 by START.   Based in San Antonio, START's mission is to accelerate the development of new anticancer drugs through Phase I research.  With four clinic sites on three continents (the US, Spain and China), START is the largest provider of Phase I testing and treatment for patients with advanced cancer.  START's Phase I researchers can uniquely claim direct, hands-on involvement with the clinical development of 18 FDA approved anti-cancer drugs that are now in use by oncologists around the world.

The idea that a group of cancer researchers were willing to set aside egos, to make the information freely available and work strictly for the greater good of curing cancer was exactly the type of cancer project I was willing to support. -Tim Duncan

The San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project is a one-of-a-kind cancer genome research project that has the unprecedented support of more than 200 surgeons, oncologists, and cancer researchers from a broad spectrum of affiliations. This unparalleled collaboration is enabling researchers to step beyond the institutional barriers that currently fragment and piecemeal cancer research, and makes the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project the largest community-wide undertaking of its kind.

Through the support and involvement of these participating surgeons, START researchers are collecting fresh tumor tissue from 1000 patients with the 10 most common cancers in San Antonio. The project then aims to perform whole genome sequencing on both the cancerous and normal tissue from each patient.  Then, for the first time anywhere, researchers will link this genetic information to the patient's clinical outcomes.  Most significantly, all data will be made available publicly at no cost to researchers worldwide.  The project's promise to make all data freely available is built on the belief that no single investigator or institution has all of the answers and encourages the involvement of outsiders who might bring fresh ideas to the urgent and complex problem of gene abnormalities and cancer.

Like most people, Tim Duncan has been touched personally by cancer, and hopes for a cure for cancer in his lifetime.  Duncan says he was drawn to the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project, "because the information collected will ultimately be shared."

"The idea that a group of cancer researchers were willing to set aside egos, to make the information freely available and work strictly for the greater good of curing cancer was exactly the type of cancer project I was willing to support," Duncan said.

The project's founder is Dr. Anthony Tolcher, director of clinical research for START.

"I couldn't have been more surprised and grateful," said Dr. Tolcher, when presented with Tim Duncan's donation. "This gift will benefit the people of San Antonio and demonstrates the commitment that Mr. Duncan has to this city and the people of San Antonio."

Dr. Tolcher said of the project's goal to put all of the data online, "Bright minds within, and beyond, our city borders can analyze the data and make the necessary breakthroughs in cancer medicine."

The project has raised 1.8 million of the roughly $3 million needed to bring the effort to completion.  This ambitious project will do what almost no one else can do, and Tim Duncan's donation will help us continue to move the project forward and inspire other donors to join us," said Dr. Tolcher.

Since it began, researchers have collected more than 1000 cancerous tumor samples and is now in the phase of building the database of cancer genome information along with the clinical data.

For more information on the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project, or to make a donation, visit www.sagenome.net.