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Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation Makes Landmark Donation to Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute

Lou and Jean Malnati with Dr James Chandler
Legendary Chicago pizzeria’s foundation donates multimillion dollar gift to help patients battling brain, spinal tumors

CHICAGO – The Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation has made a transformational donation to the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute (NBTI) to help advance medical education, collaborate on research initiatives and create innovative clinical models of care for patients with brain and spinal cord tumors. NBTI is a nationally recognized leader in the fight against brain and spinal cord tumors, offering patients the most advanced clinical trials and treatment options available.

This donation represents the largest gift by a donor to NBTI since its inception in 2008. In acknowledgement of the longstanding support and commitment to the NBTI by the Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation, the institute will be renamed the Northwestern Medicine Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“By making this contribution, our goal is to help the Northwestern Medicine Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial Hospital attract and retain even more world-class talent, who have the capability to both create breakthroughs in battling brain tumors and advance patient care in the neuroscience field,” said Marc Malnati, co-chair of the Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation and member of the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Board of Directors. “We believe that our ‘dream team’ will become one of the top three brain tumor institutes in the country.”

The newly named institute will also expand to a new location in the Galter Pavilion at Northwestern Memorial Hospital which will allow for an enhanced interdisciplinary approach for patients to receive quicker diagnosis, specialized treatment and one-of-a-kind support programs within the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

"This gracious gift by the Malnati Cancer Research Foundation is a turning point in helping patients with brain and spinal cord tumors,” said James P. Chandler, MD, co-director of the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, surgical director of neuro-oncology at Northwestern Memorial and Lavin/Fates Professor of Neurological Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This will help improve care and advance research for patients now and in the future."

Additionally, the gift will create an endowed professorship, the Jean Malnati Miller Professorship, which will be held by the scientific director of the institute at Feinberg. Funding will also go towards enhancing collaborative efforts for pediatric brain tumor research at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. 

"As we look towards enhancing our world-class care in the heart of Chicago, funding will help to build upon more cutting-edge laboratory and clinical research," said Roger Stupp, MD, co-director of the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, chief of neuro-oncology in the Department of Neurology at Feinberg and associate director for strategic initiatives at the Lurie Cancer Center. “This gift will create the next wave of personalized therapeutics that will one day aid in eradicating brain and spinal cord tumors.”

Personalized care and support for patients suffering through cancer treatments is exactly what ignited Lou and Jean’s passion for the cause in 1971. Shortly after the first Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria opened in Lincolnwood, Illinois, the family opted to shut down their new restaurant for an evening to host their first benefit raising money for a scholarship fund in memory of their friend, legendary Chicago Bears running back, Brian Piccolo. Three years later, Lou Malnati was diagnosed with melanoma and began treatment at Northwestern Memorial. He ultimately passed away in 1978 at the age of 48, which led his widow Jean Malnati Miller and their two sons, Marc and Rick Malnati to redirect their efforts towards cancer research and treatment programs.

“On behalf of my family and the entire Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation Board, it’s with great satisfaction that we make this contribution as a way to honor the heartfelt giving and tradition of generosity that our parents established,” said Rick Malnati, co-chair of the Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation.

The Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is a collaboration between Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The Institute is a multidisciplinary team consisting of world-class neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, hematologists/oncologists and neuropathologists.

About Northwestern Medicine

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About Lurie Cancer Center

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About Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation

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