By Tavi Wallace:

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided a grant of $5.5 million over the past 3 years to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville to develop new treatments and vaccines for various forms of cancer.

U of L ’s research teams partnered with the trust with the hope to work towards one day curing this disease.  The cancer center’s work focuses in researching plant-based drugs.

The Helmsley Trust has over $5 billion in assets, with an array of grant making programs that range from scientific medical research, health care programs and conservation in areas such as Madagascar and the Galapagos Islands. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grant making, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations, such as teacher’s rights and conservation efforts in New York City. So why then, did they choose U of L as one of their main programs to fund?

“U of L is one of the top ranked research institutions in the nation, and there is a lot of excellent work [in regards to plant based research and spinal cord rehabilitation] going on there that we are actually seeing have a global impact.” said Kevin Cavanaugh, director of communications and public affairs for the Helmsley Trust.

Seven years ago, U of L partnered with Owensboro Health to look into what was then then a very new concept. The goal was to see if researching plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines could possibly lead to the treatment and prevention of cancer. This was quickly proven promising. The results of this research are what originally yielded financial support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Over the past few years, The Helmsley Charitable Trust has helped to fund other types of research at U of L , including working with a research group that sets its main focus on helping those who have suffered from spinal cord injuries. Many of the patients in this program have actually been able to regain function. As of this past year, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has generously donated nearly $15 million to U of L for research funding.