Inova’s cancer center receives major gift from prominent homebuilder

Inova’s cancer center receives major gift from prominent homebuilder

May 18, 2015, 12:01am EDT


Dr. Donald "Skip" Trump was hired to lead Inova’s cancer center in December. On Monday, Trump will formally be named chief of the Inova Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute, following a gift from the founder of NVR Inc. and his wife.

Tina Reed

Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal

Inova Health System’s cancer center will receive a $50 million boost toward its personalized medicine ambitions in a major donation from home construction mogul Dwight Schar and his wife, Martha Schar, officials plan to announce today.

Inova will use the gift from Schar, the founder of Reston homebuilder NVR Inc. (NYSE: NVR), to create endowments to recruit top research talent. The $200 million cancer center — to be located by 2018 at the former Exxon Mobil campus across the street from Inova’s flagship Fairfax hospital — will be named the Inova Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute.

"This is obviously a tremendous gift not just for Inova but for the people of Northern Virginia and an opportunity to bring them a first-class cancer program and the science and genomics that go with it," said Dr. John Niederhuber, CEO of Inova’s Translational Medicine Institute, which is now part of the cancer center.

The health system also plans to formally name Dr. Donald "Skip" Trump, hired from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in December, as the first director of the Schar Cancer Institute.

The institute is a major part of Inova’s effort to establish the Inova Center for Personalized Health at the Exxon Mobil site. The project stands to have a catalytic impact on the commonwealth’s floundering efforts to embrace life sciences, an industry mostly rooted in Maryland in this region. The new center would set the stage for Inova to partner with both universities and medical colleges as well with private companies to commercialize the research generated there.

Inova has been working to create the cancer effort for the last several years and is fast expanding its daily use of genomics for different clinical applications, such as in treating lung cancer patients. But the funding will allow the center to be competitive in building a team of researchers well in advance of opening at the Exxon Mobil site.

"These are resources that can be used immediately,” Trump said. “This funding will jump-start this program."

Cancer immunotherapy — or the harnessing of the body’s immune system to help fight cancer — as well the study of how genetics impact patients’ response to drugs are expected to be key components of work at the center, Trump said.

Trump anticipates the center will ultimately employ between 1,000 and 1,200 new people, including 300 to 350 clinical scientists and additional support jobs, such as laboratory technicians, required to run a cancer center of the size Inova is creating. "I am confident this will be an international center of importance," he said.

Gerry Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said Schar’s gift makes a statement about what’s happening at Inova.

"It’s such a large gift,” he said. “It really attracts attention. So much of what we do is not only based on reality, but on perception that this project really has legs."

Tina Reed covers health care.


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