UCSD Health lands $1M donation for blood transplant program

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Robert Shillman, the CEO of a Massachusetts-based company, donated $1 million to support clinical and research missions at UC San Diego Health’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.
(Photo by Melissa Jacobs)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The CEO of a Massachusetts-based manufacturing company donated $1 million to support the clinical and research missions of UC San Diego Health’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Program after undergoing life-saving cancer treatment, it was announced Friday.

When Robert Shillman learned he had lymphoma, a cancer that affects the infection-fighting cells of the immune system, he began a nationwide search for treatment that led him to Dr. Edward Ball at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health.

“I was fortunate to have been referred to Dr. Ball, a prominent hematologist-oncologist and director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at UC San Diego Health, when I was first diagnosed with lymphoma three years ago, and I’m alive today because of his care,” said Shillman, who is founder and chairman of Cognex Corp.

The gift from Shillman — who holds a doctorate in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the field of artificial intelligence and calls himself a “Doctor of Philanthropy” — funded the Robert J. Shillman Cancer Scholar.

The four-year award helped recruit physician-scientist Fotios Asimakopoulos to Moores Cancer Center, according to UCSD. Asimakopoulos’ research efforts focus on speeding momentum in the field of myeloma research, which is the second most common blood cancer.

The physician said “this award was essential for my decision to come to this fantastic institution. It’s an exciting and challenging time, yet we believe that our work will contribute to finding a cure for this common and devastating disease.”

Ball said Asimakopoulos is “doing groundbreaking research in the immunotherapies” and “adds another dimension and depth to our programs with his very strong laboratory research background, which will translate into more clinical trials in the areas of myeloma, lymphoma and leukemia.”

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