The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke

Making a Difference | The Donor's Perspective

Gerhard and Ruth Cless, Illinois

"Brain cancer is an orphan disease—that's what struck us. There's been much less money available than for other diseases, at a time when Duke researchers have abundant ideas about how to help people and make major breakthroughs. Investments here leverage great advancements."

—Gerhard and Ruth Cless, Illinois

Bebe Guill and Jack Cullather

"Brain cancer impacts more lives than you realize, and it could knock on your door tomorrow. I've lost my son and my wife, and a neighbor struggles with the disease today. But what I've seen evolve at Duke over the last decade is comforting. The Center's results get respect; I would feel like a fool not to invest. People are living longer now and quality of life for the whole family is a critical issue. That's why I've contributed to the expansion and replication of their Family Support Center."

—Jack Cullather, Virginia
Shown with Bebe Guill, MDiv, Director,
Quality of Life Programs and Services

William & Gigi Harris, Marc & Mattye Silverman, Darell Bigner, MD, PhD

"Those of us who have been touched by brain cancer and care deeply about advancing science must take the lead now. It is so gratifying to know that the Harris-Silverman Endowment Fund enabled the Center to recruit world-class scientist Francis Ali-Osman, DSc, to the team."

—William and Gigi Harris,
Marc and Mattye Silverman,
North Carolina
Shown with Darell D. Bigner, MD, PhD, Director,
The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke

Mike Traynor

"Duke offers a wonderful collaboration between the scientific community and patients, and we firmly believe there is no better place to lead the effort dedicated to the eradication of brain tumors."

—Mike Traynor, President
Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation

Anne Colville and husband Oscar Ellis "I'm thrilled to support the tremendously positive work of the Center, where they provide real care for patients with brain tumors, instead of proclaiming an immediate death sentence."

Anne Colville, Iowa
Shown with husband, Oscar Ellis

Epperson Family

With a $1 million gift to the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, Stan and Melinda Epperson and their daughter Lisa have established the Jeffrey Thomas Epperson Memorial Fund to honor their son and brother and to support brain tumor research at Duke.

“My son touched a lot of people in a very positive way,” says his father, Stan. “This fund is a way of honoring him and his courageous fight. The best way to honor him is to find a cure for this disease.”

Jeff Epperson was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 24 with meduloblastoma, a brain tumor more common in very young children. He began treatment in 1999 at Duke under the care of Henry Friedman, MD. The brain tumor eventually metastasized to the bone, and Jeff died in February 2001.

“Every person has a chance to make that conscious decision to allow a situation to destroy them or to do something so that no one else will have to go through what we’ve gone through,” explains Stan. “I believe we will have the greatest chance of curing this disease by supporting research at Duke,” he continues. “There is a great spirit of cooperation between Dr. Darell Bigner, Dr. Henry Friedman, and Dr. Allan Friedman. They make you feel like an invaluable part of what they are trying to accomplish.”

Bigner serves as director of The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, and Henry and Allan Friedman serve as deputy directors.

In addition to creating the fund, Stan currently serves as chair of the board for The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke. Along with his wife and daughter, Stan also leads Team Epperson, which has been a top contributing team to the Angels Among Us 5K Race and Walk, a fundraising event for the brain tumor center.

Stan Epperson’s work and support of brain tumor research extends to the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation, of which he has served as president since 2003. The foundation supports brain tumor research at a number of institutions including Duke and has funded more than $350,000 in research in the last three years. Bigner serves on the foundation’s medical advisory board.

“I just want to get rid of brain tumors,” says Stan. “The best way I know how to do that is to support research.”