Joining the Good Fight: Pennington Foundation Donates 15.5 Million Dollar Grant to Transform Cancer Care in Northern Nevada
July 13, 2022
Generous gift will establish the William N. Pennington Cancer Institute at Renown Health.
The William N. Pennington Foundation has announced a $15.5 million gift to the Renown Health Foundation to help establish the William N. Pennington Cancer Institute at Renown. This gift will help to bolster care and clinical expertise to improve the lives of people with cancer across northern Nevada. This is the largest gift Renown has ever received.
This is the second major donation Renown Health has received from The William N. Pennington Foundation. In 2016, the Pennington Foundation recognized the need for enhanced care and expertise for pediatrics and donated $7.5 million to Renown Children’s Hospital to establish the William N. Pennington Fund for Advanced Pediatric Care. Through this gift, 100,000 area children now have access to pediatric specialists and contemporary healthcare services at the region’s only children’s hospital. Prior to 2016, about 30 percent of all pediatric patients had to leave northern Nevada to receive the specialty care they needed. Now, thanks to the Pennington Foundation’s support, Renown estimates that 97% of all pediatric patients and their families can receive both general and specialty pediatric care locally.
Now, improving access to cancer care services in northern Nevada is the priority. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 39.5% Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2015–2017 data). Here in Nevada, the American Cancer Society estimates 16,390 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2022 and that 5,730 Nevadans will die from cancer this year. The most frequent cancers seen include breast, prostate, lung and colo-rectal cancers.
“The Pennington Foundation gift is so appreciated, as it honors a man who had a passion for improving lives and provides a legacy for the our current generation,” said Thomas R. Graf, M.D., FAAFP, Chief Executive Officer of Renown Health. Dr Graf also serves as Chief Clinical and Quality Officer at Renown, and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs for University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. “We are deeply grateful for this transformative gift. This gift will allow Renown to continue our mission of making a genuine difference in the health and well-being of people with cancer- their families, and the communities we serve.”
The Renown Institute for Cancer will now be named the William N. Pennington Cancer Institute in honor of the man who was a gaming pioneer, businessperson, and philanthropist.
In former publications, the late philanthropist, Bill Pennington said, “During my many years in business, I was fortunate to work with thousands of wonderful employees, all of them Nevadans. Their efforts helped create the William N. Pennington Foundation, and I hope the Foundation will, in turn, help future generations of Nevadans for many years to come.”
The Pennington grant will focus on bolstering expert clinical care to address the many concerns that come with a cancer diagnosis and allow people to stay in northern Nevada instead of having travel hundreds of miles out of the area for specialty care. The Institute will be devoted to advancing cancer care, cancer screening, prevention, and cancer research, including the ability to offer the latest clinical trials.
“Our goal is to offer our community comprehensive clinical services, basic, translational and clinical research, medical education to students and post-graduate training, and population health with community outreach to reduce the burden of cancer. Ultimately, the vision is to become accredited by the National
Cancer Institute,” said Max J. Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA, Cancer Center Director.
“We are incredibly thankful and grateful for the commitment and support of the William N. Pennington Foundation,” said Greg Walaitis, Renown Health Foundation’s Chief Development Officer. “We appreciate the Pennington Foundation’s belief in Renown’s charitable mission to build a healthier community, together. We thank them for Joining the Good Fight.”
Renown Health is the region’s largest locally governed, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. With a diverse workforce of more than 7,000 employees, Renown has fostered a longstanding culture of excellence, determination and innovation. The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) and Renown Health affiliated in June of 2021 to establish Nevada’s first integrated health system with missions in education, patient care, and clinical research. The organization comprises a trauma center, two acute care hospitals, a children’s hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, a medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest, locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown is currently enrolling participants in the world’s largest community-based genetic population health study, the Healthy Nevada Project®. For more information, visit renown.org.
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Dr. Max Coppes to Lead William N. Pennington Institute
Max Coppes, M.D., Ph.D., MBA who has served as Nell J. Redfield Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Nevada School of Medicine (UNR Med) and pediatrician-in-chief at Renown Children’s Hospital for the last six years has annou