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Dwight and Martha Schar and Knox Singleton
Dwight and Martha Schar and Knox Singleton

Inova Health System receives largest gift in history for new cancer center.

By Erica Moody 

Dwight and Martha Schar and Knox Singleton

Dwight and Martha Schar and Inova CEO Knox Singleton (Photo by Sean Kelley)

In the words of Governor Terry McAuliffe, something “absolutely historic” just happened in Virginia—with the announcement yesterday of the single largest gift ever given to a health organization in the commonwealth. The donation was from NVR founder and Washington Redskins part-owner Dwight Schar and his wife Martha to Inova Health System and will be used to set up endowments to attract the best talent in cancer research.

The billionaire with a home in McLean and a company based in Reston obviously has close ties to Virginia, but people ask Schar why he is making this gift. To that, he says “Because I believe Inova is at the forefront of reshaping health care through the power of genomics. I also believe that under the leadership of Dr. Skip Trump that we’re on the cusp of setting the standard for the application of genetic sciences in the prediction, prevention and treatment of cancer.”

Governor Terry McAuliffe

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Photo by Sean Kelley)

The Schars’ gift will help Inova establish one of the top cancer research centers in the world, a global leader in discovering cancers early. Inova’s cancer center will be renamed the Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute and will be located on an expansive property (117 acres) formerly owned by Exxon Mobil and across the street from Inova’s flagship Fairfax hospital. The $200 million institute is scheduled to open in 2018.

McAuliffe said Inova will now be a catalyst for a life sciences hub in Virginia and will transform the economy of the region. “We’re going to be able to bring in the best minds from all over the globe to come here to deal with specific, personalized medicine,” he said. “We can now recruit the best scientists, the best faculty, the best students, private sector bringing them all together. We will be the global leader in cancer research.”

Senator Tim Kaine

Senator Tim Kaine (Photo by Sean Kelley)

Senator Tim Kaine echoed McAuliffe’s talk of a biotech focus. “Virginia has become a very strong technology state,” he said, “and it’s going to be biotech that will be a driver of our economic future and of the innovations. The innovations that happen here will have a direct application to solving the problems of cancer.” He stated that cancer is the leading cause of death in northern Virginia.

Dr. Donald "Skip" Trump

Dr. Donald “Skip” Trump (Photo by Sean Kelley)

“Many large healthcare systems struggle to make their care personal and patient-and-family friendly,” said newly appointed Inova CEO Donald “Skip” Trump in his remarks. “My commitment is that patient centered care will be the hallmark of the Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute.”

Carolyn Peterson, Knox Singleton and Milt Peterson

Carolyn Peterson, Knox Singleton and Milt Peterson (Photo by Sean Kelley)

Trump also thanked Milt Peterson and his family for their support and for establishing Life With Cancer, the region’s leading cancer education and support organization. “Philanthropy is essential for the growth and development of a major cancer institution,” Trump said.

Alan Dabbiere

Alan Dabbiere (Photo by Sean Kelley)

Chairman of the Inova Foundation board, Alan Dabbiere, whose wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago, thanked the Schars. “This is the kind of gift that will keep my wife alive,” he said. “This gift is going to help translate all this clinical research into an operating process that can get people cured.”

Milt Peterson

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