NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman and Grammy-winning musician Keith Urban are providing a substantial donation towards breast cancer research. The star-studded couple are supporting clinical trials by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center aimed at developing new and better therapies for breast cancer.
Kidman and Urban are long-time supporters of cancer research efforts, and reside in Nashville, Tennessee – the home of Vanderbilt-Ingram. The center features a bevy of internationally recognized breast cancer researchers and clinicians. The couple’s advocacy and philanthropy when it comes to cancer is deeply rooted in Kidman’s experiences as a teenager caring for her mother, a breast cancer survivor. Both Kidman and Urban recently visited pediatric patients at the Seacrest Studio within Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
“My experience of watching a parent or another loved one battle cancer is something that far too many people have had to endure,” Kidman says in a statement. “I am fortunate to have had my mother with me all these years since. Keith and I are making this gift in the hope that more people will have more years to enjoy life with the people they love. We realize that clinical trials can have a global impact when knowledge about treatment advancements is shared.”
Beyond cancer research, Kidman has been committed to supporting women’s health and raising awareness of women’s issues for a long time. In 2006 she was named, and continues to serve as, the Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. That role aims to empower women, promote gender equality and women’s rights all over the world, and put an end to violence against women.
“This gift from Nicole and Keith is crucial to our mission at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center,” comments Dr. Vandana Abramson, the Donna S. Hall Professor of Medicine and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram. “Gifts from individual donors are like seeds in a garden. They support emerging therapies that start out as ideas in a laboratory or an examination room. If we didn’t have this kind of support, those ideas would never take root and become clinical trials and ultimately lead to better, less toxic treatments and more cures.”
Great strides in breast cancer research
A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram is world renowned for its breast cancer expertise and research efforts. It is one of only six cancer centers in the nation granted the prestigious Specialized Programs of Research Excellence funding from the National Cancer Institute.
Research from the laboratory of Vanderbilt-Ingram’s former director, Dr. Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, has helped produce vast improvements in modern medicine’s understanding of triple-negative breast cancer. The current director, Dr. Ben Ho Park, the Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology, is also a leader in the breast cancer field and helped pioneer liquid biopsies for cancer evaluation and treatment.
“We are grateful for the support that Ms. Kidman and Mr. Urban have given to our breast cancer research program. Their actions help us in our mission to lessen the burden of this disease,” adds Dr. Pietenpol.
Today, Abramson and Park are currently leading a multi-center national clinical trial aimed at evaluating changes in circulating tumor DNA levels in an attempt to help guide metastatic breast cancer therapies. They also just finished a national study evaluating immunotherapy in breast cancer. The donations from Kidman and Urban will help further support clinical trials stemming from this research.
“We are humbled and honored to be recipients of this gift, which will positively impact the lives of patients with breast cancer and their families,” Dr. Park concludes.