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University of Florida receives $12M gift to launch brain tumor research initiative

Gift received from Orlando hotel magnate Harris Rosen, Harris Rosen Foundation

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida and UF Health have announced a $12 million gift from an Orlando business leader to launch a brain tumor research initiative.

The university has received a $12 million gift from Orlando hotel magnate Harris Rosen and the Harris Rosen Foundation to advance innovative brain tumor immunotherapy research and care at UF Health, according to the university. It's also to launch a partnership for the development of novel brain tumor treatments.

University officials said the Rosen gift is the cornerstone of a $100 million fundraising commitment to support the ReMission Alliance Against Brain Tumors, which is an initiative led by the university that will unite world-leading neuro-oncology physicians and scientists in dynamic research and clinical trials.

"I am extremely grateful that Harris Rosen and his family share our vision to make a transformative impact on outcomes for patients with brain tumors," said Dr. Duane Mitchell, co-director of UF's Preston A. Wells Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy and director of the ReMission Alliance. "Their support of our research, patient care initiatives and the ReMission Alliance will allow us to leverage the power of the immune system to combat invasive brain cancers to dramatically improve the lives of brain tumor patients, here at UF and abroad."

Along with Dr. William Friedman, also a co-director of the Preston A. Wells Jr. Center, Mitchell and his team will support several research projects and clinical trials coordinated with partners from among the world's best research institutes and hospitals, officials said.

"Thanks to the generosity and support of Harris Rosen and his family, we are able to pursue research breakthroughs that result in real change," UF President Kent Fuchs said. "I am confident that, together, we can advance the work necessary to provide extraordinary outcomes for patients suffering from malignant brain tumors and improve their survival rates and quality of life. The ReMission Alliance embodies UF's commitment to the greater good."

This work of organizing multidisciplinary, collaborative research efforts among groups of skilled researchers and physicians resonated deeply with Harris Rosen. Officials said his son, Adam, who received care at UF Health, died in November after a prolonged fight with brain cancer.

Rosen was impressed by the UF Health clinical team's professionalism, skill and commitment to making Adam and his family as comfortable as possible, university officials said.

"It was obvious how dedicated they are to improving the quality of life for their patients," Rosen said. "The team at UF is already doing extraordinary work, and the Alliance will enhance their progress and improve outcomes for patients well beyond Florida. A collaboration like this is difficult and lofty, but my family and I support this vision to rewrite the story of brain cancer."

Officials said Rosen is the founder, president and chief operating officer of Rosen Hotels & Resorts.