$10M gift will launch Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center
January 13, 2014
— A $10 million gift from Internet-publishing entrepreneurs Emmet and Toni Stephenson and their daughter Tessa Stephenson Brand will fund the creation of the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center
at City of Hope, the cornerstone of the institution’s new Hematologic Malignancies Institute.
The gift was announced Jan. 11 at a gala at City of Hope, which culminated a year-long celebration of the institution’s centennial and the start of a new century of discovery. The gift will enable City of Hope researchers, already national leaders in the treatment of blood and bone marrow diseases, to deepen their investigation of the biological mechanisms of lymphoma, identify new molecular targets and expedite production of immunotherapies to treat this deadly disease.
In launching the lymphoma center, the gift will help shape the structure of City of Hope’s new Hematologic Malignancies Institute. The institute, now in development, will help speed the translation of new discoveries to patients diagnosed with hematologic malignancies. City of Hope is already a pioneer in the treatment of these diseases, and the institute will bring additional resources and commitment to their ultimate cure and prevention.
“As my wife and I can personally attest, City of Hope offers patients the newest, most promising therapies that are always delivered with compassionate care,” said Emmet Stephenson. “We are confident that City of Hope researchers will continue to be pioneers in finding cures for these devastating diseases.”
Married more than 46 years, the Stephensons are devoted philanthropists. In 2013, the Stephenson family
gave $1 million to City of Hope to support T cell lymphoma research. They are perhaps best known for creating Domain.com Inc., an Internet publishing empire that includes Doctors.com, Hospitals.com, Wedding.com and Birthday.com. They also founded StarTek Inc. and operate Stephenson Ventures, a portfolio management and private equity company. Emmet Stephenson was a director of Danaher Corporation for 22 years. Tessa Stephenson Brand is the founder and CEO of Tessa Lyn Events, a wedding and event planning company operating in Southern California.
Toni Stephenson is currently being treated at City of Hope for T cell lymphoma, and the Stephensons said they’re honored to have the lymphoma center named in her honor.
Each year, more than 9,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Hodgkin disease (also known as Hodgkin lymphoma) and nearly 70,000 with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Though T cell lymphoma comprises less than 15 percent of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases in the U.S., it is one the deadliest forms of the disease because it is stubbornly resistant to conventional therapies.
The Stephenson family’s gift will help City of Hope scientists further develop immune-based, nontransplant therapies that have already shown promise in their laboratories.
“For decades, doctors and researchers at City of Hope have worked to prolong the lives and relieve the suffering of thousands of people with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers,” said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope. “Our success shows not just how committed we are to those patients, but also just how much more we can achieve. The Stephenson family’s generosity will enable us to improve the longevity – and the quality – of our patients’ lives and, ultimately, to cure lymphoma and other diseases.”
In addition to creating their Internet publishing companies, Emmet and Toni Stephenson founded the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute at their alma mater, Louisiana State University (LSU), to teach new processes for saving human and animal life in major disasters around the world. They have been invited to lecture about entrepreneurship and family businesses at LSU, at Harvard Business School, where Emmet earned an MBA and Toni graduated from the Owner/President Management Program, and at USC, where daughter Tessa earned a degree in filmmaking.
About City of Hope
City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, Calif., just northeast of Los Angeles, with community clinics in southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S.News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.