Cornell establishes cancer research fund in honor of Elizabeth Garrett

Editor's Note: This article was originally written by Susan Kelley for the Cornell Chronicle. It is republished with permission.

ITHACA, N.Y. - Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett succumbed to colon cancer March 6, but one of her wishes has come true.

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“Before her untimely death, Beth expressed her desire to create a fund at Weill Cornell Medicine to advance research in colon cancer,” wrote Dr. Laurie Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, in a letter to the institution.

Glimcher announced March 8 the launch of the President Elizabeth Garrett Fund for Colon Cancer Research. The fund, she added, “is a fitting tribute to a wonderful individual who was committed to Cornell, to public service and to compassionate patient care.”

Garrett formally made public that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer in a statement on Feb. 8. She was being treated by a team of doctors at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. The number of new colorectal cancer cases in the United States in 2016 is expected to reach 95,270 cases of colon cancer and 39,220 cases of rectal cancer. These cancers are also expected to cause about 49,190 deaths during 2016.

The American Cancer Society recommends most adults start screening for colorectal cancer at age 50, unless there is a family history of the disease, in which case screenings are recommended at age 45.

“It is a tragedy that Beth’s life was cut short so soon,” wrote Glimcher. “It’s also a painful reminder of why we’re all here – to advance medical research and offer patients the best care, so that they can achieve their dreams and live as fully as possible.”

Donations to the President Elizabeth Garrett Fund for Colon Cancer Research at the Meyer Cancer Center can be sent to Weill Cornell Medicine, 1300 York Ave., Box 314, New York, NY 10065.

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