How Hearst Fights Cancer in the Lab and the Unit

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation has a large endowment, and it spends tens of millions of dollars each year on diverse causes in culture, education, social service, and health. The foundation's approach to funding cancer-related programs is just as multifaceted, with about 5% of health-related dollars going to cancer causes. With 30% of the foundation's total spending going to health overall, that's a decent chunk of change. (See Hearst Foundation: Grants for Medical Research.)

Like many philanthropic health-care organizations, the Hearst Foundation places a high priority on increasing access to health care for low-income populations. In the area of cancer, this effort often involves contributions toward fellowships and recruitment efforts. The foundation gave $200,000 to the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica to create the William Randolph Hearst Surgical Oncology Fellowship. It also contributed $125,000 to the Clinical Investigator Award program at the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in New York. The Clinical Investigator program supports young doctors who can perform both clinical care and research, hopefully closing the gap between promising research and patient delivery.

The Hearst Foundation also contributes to renovations and equipment purchases at hospitals and other cancer-related organizations. It pledged $200,000 to the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University to help build a Cancer Critical Care Tower. The new facility will house both critical care and research spaces, with the goal of encouraging collaboration between the two areas of cancer treatment. (Read Hearst Senior Program Officer Ligia Cravo's IP profile.)

Hearst gave $100,000 to Banner Health in Phoenix toward the purchase a new linear accelerator for performing radiation therapy. A smaller grant of $50,000 helped the Jennifer Diamond Cancer Foundation establish a cancer resource center at its headquarters in Chatsworth, California.

And the San Mateo County Health Foundation received $75,000 to upgrade to digital mammography technology — although the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently found no evidence for or against the technology's usefulness. That's the same group that recommended against mammograms for women under 50, a new guideline that has had little real-world effect.

About 80% of the Hearst Foundation's health-related funding goes to current grantees, meaning the competition is tough for new grantseekers. In addition, organizations with budgets over $10 million have received 80% of that funding. Still, prospective grantees that can combine Hearst's interest in fighting cancer with its focus on providing health care to low-income populations should have a better shot at receiving funding. And programs that strive to bring research and treatment together are likely to be favored as well.