The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network received a $25 million gift aimed at bolstering the Manhattan Beach-based organization’s efforts to detect the disease earlier and find better treatment options, the charity announced Tuesday.
The gift was made in memory of mutual fund investment expert Skip Viragh, and it builds on other donations his family has made to PanCAN since 2004, totaling more than $70 million, an unprecedented amount for the organization. Viragh died from pancreatic cancer in 2003.
According to PanCAN, the organization will use the donation to advance efforts to accelerate the approval of new treatment options for patients, develop early detection when surgery is still possible, and change the status quo in pancreatic cancer clinical trials to advance new therapies.
“We are extremely grateful to Skip’s family for their generosity and for supporting PanCAN’s bold vision for accelerating progress for this disease,” PanCAN President and CEO Julie Fleshman said in a statement.
“Their investment will help us build on the important and innovative research we are doing to move the needle on this disease more rapidly.”
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States with a five-year survival rate of just 12%. With no standard early detection test and few effective treatment options, there continues to be an urgent need to increase funding, research, and awareness to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer, according to PanCAN.
Viragh founded Rydex Funds, based in Rockville, Maryland, and reportedly grew the business from a three-person operation to a 200-plus employee enterprise with more than $10 billion in assets under management.