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$2 million gift to fund cancer prevention professorship

The KU Cancer Center received $2 million from the Morris Family Foundation to establish the Mark and Bette Morris Family Chair in Cancer Prevention, which will support a physician scientist specializing in breast cancer prevention.

The gift was given by Bette Morris in honor of her late husband, Topeka veterinarian Mark Morris Jr. Bette Morris said her husband was passionate about helping the KU Cancer Center become a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center because he knew it would bring the most advanced cancer treatment to the community.

"We are happy that our contribution will support and continue to build the outstanding breast cancer prevention programs that Dr. Carol Fabian has pioneered at KU," Morris said.

The Kansas Masonic Foundation made the gift possible in support of the KU Cancer Center and the Kansas Masonic Cancer Research Institute. The gift was presented at a ceremony Wednesday morning at the KU Medical Center.

"We are grateful to the Morris Family Foundation for their foresight and generosity in providing a solid footing for our Breast Cancer Prevention program," said Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center. "This generous gift will further accelerate the discovery and development of new ways to prevent this devastating disease."

The Mark and Bette Morris Family Chair in Cancer Prevention is the sixth endowed professorship established through the work of the Kansas Masonic Foundation.

In 2003, the foundation pledged $15 million via the Partnership for Life campaign, to help KU in the fight against cancer. That pledge brought the foundation's total support for cancer research to over $20 million.

"The Masons of Kansas are extremely proud of the success of the Partnership for Life campaign, yet we recognize we still have a long way to go in our fight against cancer," said Jeff Sowder, president of the Kansas Masonic Foundation. "Our campaign may have concluded, but our partnership with the KU Cancer Center is lifelong and we will continue our efforts until there is a cure for this dreaded disease."

The KU Medical Center recognized their generosity by naming the research wing of their cancer center the Kansas Masonic Cancer Research Institute.

"In recognition of Mark's strong support for the Partnership for Life campaign," Morris said, "our family is pleased to make the capstone gift."

The gift will be managed by KU Endowment, KU's official fundraising organization.

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