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New Distinguished Chair in Cancer at NCCC

The Reverend Preston T. Kelsey '58 and his wife, Virginia Rice Kelsey '61S, have made a $5 million commitment to endow a new chair at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). The Preston T. and Virginia R. Kelsey Distinguished Chair in Cancer will support the work of NCCC Director Mark Israel in his fight to understand, treat, and prevent cancer.

From left: Preston T. Kelsey '58, Virginia Rice Kelsey '81, and Mark Israel, director of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center.
From left: Rev. Preston T. Kelsey '58, Virginia Rice Kelsey '61S, and Mark Israel, director of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC). The Kelseys recently established The Preston T. and Virginia R. Kelsey Distinguished Chair in Cancer at NCCC. (Photo by Bill Truslow)

Stephen P. Spielberg, dean of Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) says, "This generous gift exemplifies the kind of support that is so vital to Dartmouth Medical School. Endowments such as this provide the basis for our ability to address all of our missions-excellence in patient care, education, and research into the future."

Preston Kelsey has been a member of the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, and a longtime supporter, with his wife, of the annual Prouty Century Ride and Fitness Walk fundraising event.

"Extraordinary breakthroughs are on the horizon," he says. "That's the dramatic fruit of the continuing research that's going on here."

Under Israel's leadership, NCCC has increased its international reputation with significant advances in the fight against cancer, particularly in the areas of imaging, immunotherapy, and chemoprevention. A specialist in the molecular and cellular biology of pediatric brain tumors, Israel has assembled an impressive team of researchers and physicians whose work is transforming the way medicine and treatments are delivered. In recognition of these achievements, the National Cancer Institute recently doubled the funding it provides for critical research activities.

Israel says the gift by the Kelseys is especially meaningful because it comes from residents of the local community. "I am honored and enormously grateful to receive this commitment in support of our work. All donor support is critically important in allowing us to further our mission, but this tangible expression from our own community is significant in inspiring our talented staff, and as a recognition that our work reflects a commitment to this community."

Preston Kelsey is the retired director of the Board for Theological Education. After graduating from Dartmouth, he earned his MDIV from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1961. He was Curate of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Hanover in 1962, and served in the California clergy until 1984.

Virginia Rice Kelsey graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in art. An internationally known sculptor, her work was chosen by the United Nations to represent the United States in a worldwide exhibit. She did graduate work at Dartmouth with Paul Sample and Richard Wagner, earning the designation of special student in the Class of 1961. She is currently an instructor at the Ava Gallery in Lebanon, N.H.

This is the fourth endowment the Kelseys have made to the Dartmouth community. In addition to the NCCC gift, they have endowments at the Tucker Foundation, the Hood Museum of Art, and the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kelsey gift to support advances in cancer care and research addresses a major priority in the Transforming Medicine Campaign for DMS and DHMC. To date, the Campaign has raised $111 million toward its 2009 goal of $250 million, the largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by the two institutions.

By DEBORAH KIMBELL

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Last Updated: 12/17/08