Markel Corp. Exec Creates Cancer Research Fund

Tony Markel, vice chairman of the Markel Corp., and his daughters, Diana and Melinda, have established the Markel/Friedman Peritoneal Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at City of Hope in memory of his late wife, Susan. The gift, which was augmented by nearly $250,000 in personal donations made in Susan’s memory, will support multiple research programs dedicated to the early detection and improved treatments of this disease. Markel lost his wife, Susan, to peritoneal cancer in January 2008. The fund also recognizes Michael A. Friedman, M.D., City of Hope president and CEO, for the support he provided to the Markel family during Susan’s treatment.

“Each year, peritoneal and ovarian cancers affect an estimated 175,000 women and their families,” Tony Markel said. “There is a tremendous need for research to help improve treatments and outcomes for women facing these diseases. The Markel/Friedman Peritoneal Ovarian Cancer Research Fund will promote research collaboration and help City of Hope uncover new treatments and screening methods that can help save lives.”

Initially, the Markel/Friedman Peritoneal Ovarian Cancer Research Fund will support a two-year study led by City of Hope investigators Robert J. Morgan Jr., M.D., co-director, Gynecologic Oncology/Peritoneal Malignancy Program, and Mark Wakabayashi, M.D., M.P.H., director, Department of Gynecologic Oncology. The study will focus on the use of chemotherapy to treat advanced ovarian and peritoneal carcinoma in patients who may not benefit from platinum-based therapies, a standard treatment that kills cells by damaging their DNA and can have severe side effects. A second, preclinical study led by Richard Jove, Ph.D., director, Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope, will be aimed at the discovery and development of new drugs for ovarian cancer. A third, two-year study will examine the genetic roots of ovarian cancer, identifying specific genes associated with the cancer’s growth and assessing the effectiveness of treatments to mitigate the cancer risk of those genetic defects. The third study will be led by Jeffrey N. Weitzel, M.D., director of the Department of Clinical Cancer Genetics and the Cancer Screening & Prevention Program.

“This generous grant will help us continue our mission to bring discoveries quickly to patients for whom time is precious. We are truly grateful to Tony Markel and his family for their dedication to City of Hope,” Friedman said.

Markel has been involved with City of Hope through the National Insurance Industry Council fundraising group, and was presented with its Spirit of Life Award in 2006 in recognition of his philanthropic efforts within his industry and community.

Markel has been involved in numerous philanthropic efforts through the Anthony F. and Susan M. Markel Foundation, most notably benefiting the Milton L. Markel Alzheimer’s Research Fund, the Cullather Brain Cancer Fund, the University of Virginia Athletic Foundation, the YMCA and the Richmond Metro Boys and Girls Club.

City of Hope is a research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases located in Duarte, Calif., just northeast of Los Angeles. For more information, visit