The Culprit is Cancer
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was 1989. Slamon was getting closer to understanding HER-2. But
in order to accelerate and expand his work, he needed money - lots
of it. Funding for research even this seemingly promising can be
difficult to obtain and very slow in coming. Slamon was stalled
at a critical crossroad.
Frankenstein and I'm the monster," jokes Tartikoff. "Together,
there's no stopping us."
and Slamon have a close, unusual relationship. He provides the marvelous
science. She's got the connections and resolve to raise millions
for research. When she asks him to, Slamon speaks to Fortune 500
CEOs or Hollywood studio executives so they'll understand the work,
feel invested in the cause. Tartikoff is mastermind of the glamorous
Fire & Ice Ball, which she cochairs with Revlon's Ronald O. Perelman,
and she founded the Revlon Run/Walk with Lisa Paulson and the Entertainment
Industry Foundation. Tartikoff and Perelman have together raised
more than $17 million for Slamon, the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer
Research Program and other women's health research programs at UCLA.
Slamon learned of the success of the Phase III clinical trials late
last year, Lilly Tartikoff was one of the first people he called.
The timing was especially poignant: Her husband, Brandon, had died
in August of a recurrence of Hodgkin's disease. "It was bittersweet
because it hit so close to home," Tartikoff recalls. "While I was
thrilled, it was impossible for me to feel peaceful and joyous beyond
belief. But I celebrate for all women. And
I celebrate for Dr. Slamon. He's a born visionary."
years earlier, Slamon had saved Brandon Tartikoff's life. Tartikoff
had been ill with Hodgkin's but was assured by a prominent physician
that he was now healthy. Slamon found Tartikoff still had active
Hodgkin's and put him on a promising new therapy. When he recovered,
a grateful Lilly pledged to raise money for Slamon's science.
Slamon's research on genes was only beginning. It would be years
before he availed himself of Lilly Tartikoff's offer.
waited a long time," Tartikoff confirms.