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Philly Against Prostate Cancer

A mid-size city is yielding a super crop of groundbreaking anti-cancer research. Why is some of the most important work against prostate cancer sprouting in Philadelphia?

July 15, 2013 -- Plant a seed and watch it grow. Perhaps no phrase is more shopworn, but yet there’s a reason for its overuse: the fundamental truth embedded in the phrase. No seed, no tree. And while the waiting for something, anything, to sprout from the ground in which that seed has been planted can be torturous, once spring-green stalks begin to shoot forth, the sense of accomplishment can be all the sweeter, knowing that deferred gratification and careful tending often bring the most fecund results.

When commercial real estate developer Clay W. Hamlin, III was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999, the seeds he thought about most were radioactive ones used to treat prostate cancer as he read about treatment options for the disease. Eventually he settled on surgery to remove his cancerous prostate. After his operation, which he terms “completely successful,” he began to focus on how fortunate he felt to have benefited from progress in the fight against prostate cancer. He wanted to give back. As he read about more advanced forms of the disease than he’d been diagnosed with, he began to understand how much more work remained if men were ever to see a cure for this disease. At that time, he says, there were relatively few options to treat non-localized prostate cancer. “Now, there are a lot more arrows in the quiver,” says Hamlin.

"An ultimately personalized therapy - one deriving from the patient's own immune system."
- Dr. Carl June

In 2001, after Hamlin became cognizant of the huge disparity in federal outlays that existed between breast cancer research and prostate cancer research—Hamlin says breast cancer was getting about $500 million to prostate cancer’s $50 million—he decided to join the board of what was then the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, or NPCC. (That Coalition, modeled after the National Breast Cancer Coalition, has since morphed into ZERO—The Project to End Prostate Cancer, that advocates for increased federal spending for prostate cancer research. The Prostate Cancer Foundation directly funds highly-promising research.) It was at his first board meeting, that Hamlin met Michael Milken, a prostate cancer survivor, financer, philanthropist, founder of the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), co-founder of NPCC, and currently the chairman of FasterCures and the Milken Institute nonpartisan think tank.

Carl June Click on Image to Englarge

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