Freemasonry has a long and rich heritage of supporting education and medical research. Freemasons also have numerous charities and a history of making generous donations for hospitals, universities, and to help the poor. The Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center was founded in 1991 with the help of a 5 million dollar contribution from the Masonic Cancer Center Fund. In 2008 a donation of 65 million dollars was made to the University by the Minnesota Masonic Charities group. The donation was to promote the finding of a cure for cancer. It was at this time that the University recognized this gift by changing the name of their cancer center to the current Masonic Cancer Center.
The center started with roughly 300 members when the university decided to bring all of their cancer research, patient care, and cancer related education together under one roof. It began as a part of the University’s Academic Health Center. This also included medical, dental, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine schools. The doors to the current facility were officially opened in 1996. Today the Masonic Cancer Center has over 500 staff members and is home to the worlds top cancer researchers. The National Cancer Institute has designated the facility a comprehensive cancer center in 1998, 2003, and 2009.
Some of the ongoing fields of work at Masonic Cancer Center include breast cancer and bone cancer research and treatment, pediatric oncology, epidemiology, immunology, genetics, chemo prevention, and new therapies development. Over the years the Masonic Cancer Center has lead the way in research and made many significant accomplishments. They became renowned for their research into umbilical cord blood transplants. The first successful bone marrow transplant for Burkitt’s lymphoma was also performed there. They also discovered more efficient ways to find cancer genes in patients. Their research into tobacco helped to prove that nicotine is addictive and they were able to identify several cancer causing substances found in cigarettes. They are one of only seven institutions chosen by the federal government to stimulate research into the effects of tobacco across multiple different scientific disciplines.
Many of their studies have lead to long term changes in how cancer is treated and have dramatically increased the lives of patients. In 1959 the percentage of survivors of childhood cancer was around only 10%. Today, thanks in part to the Masonic Cancer Center, that rate is up to 80%. They have also initiated many important studies such as research on how lifestyle, genetics, and family history affect the risk of gynecological and breast cancers in women. The Center also has outreach and education programs to raise awareness of cancer related issues.
Today the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, continues on with it’s mission to advance knowledge and enhance care. They do so by striving to create an environment of collaboration between different institutions and various fields of science. They focus on causes, prevention, detection, treatment, and improving the quality of life of cancer patients world wide. They are committed to sharing all research and discoveries freely with other scientists, doctors, and the world. Some of their prominent research partners include the Institute of Human Genetics, the Stem Cell Institute, Center for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, the University of Minnesota Medical Center, and the Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.