$1.5M Gift from Embrace Kids Foundation Supports Endowed Chair at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

$1.5M Gift from Embrace Kids Foundation Supports Endowed Chair at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Funding supports academic leader and research efforts in pediatric hematology and oncology

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- An organization that has been helping children suffering with cancer and blood disorders for almost a quarter of a century has made a $1.5 million gift to Rutgers University to endow a faculty position in pediatric hematology and oncology that will accelerate pediatric research in precision medicine.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey staff nurse Helene Greenberg helps a pediatric patient with treatment.
Debbie Vogel/Rutgers University
The Embrace Kids Foundation Endowed Chair in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey is being established by the Embrace Kids Foundation and is the organization’s single largest gift ever awarded.

The endowed chair is funded in memory of Barton Kamen, chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, who died in 2012 at age 63 after his own courageous battle with cancer.

“The kids and families deserve top-tier medical care and research,” said Embrace Kids Foundation Executive Director Glenn Jenkins. “Embrace Kids is a thriving and passionate community with a calling to provide every resource and support possible. This endowed chair is funded in memory of an outstanding doctor and beautiful soul, former Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Chief Dr. Barton Kamen, who would agree the Embrace Kids community is proud of his great accomplishments ... but the fight continues.

The Embrace Kids gift helps fulfill part of a matching donation initiative under Our Rutgers, Our Future, a $1 billion campaign launched by the Rutgers University Foundation to broaden and enhance the myriad of ways the university serves students, the state and the world. The $1.5 million gift creates the $3 million investment needed to support the new endowed chair. 

Forty years ago, only half of all children diagnosed with cancer survived beyond five years. Today, thanks to advances in pediatric cancer treatment and research, 80 percent of children are surviving.

Since its inception in 1991, the Embrace Kids Foundation has had a long history of providing support services for families whose children have cancer or a blood disorder. Pediatric patients treated at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital benefit from a variety of programs and family support services, including financial and educational assistance, as well as palliative care.

The endowed chair gift comes full circle: One of the main supporters of the Embrace Kids Foundation is the Rutgers University Dance Marathon, which has raised $4.2 million dollars for the organization.
Photo: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University
Embrace Kids Foundation has made other gifts totaling more than $2.5 million to various departments now part of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences that support of research, faculty development and support staff, including Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Cancer Institute. The foundation has also given $2.5 million in gifts to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – the flagship hospital of the Cancer Institute – in support of child life, counseling and palliative care.

The endowed chair gift to the Cancer Institute comes full circle, as one of the main supporters of the Embrace Kids Foundation is the Rutgers University Dance Marathon, which over the past 15 years has raised $4.2 million dollars for the organization.

“The programs and services offered through Embrace Kids are complementary to what we at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey do in identifying and developing next-generation therapies for these children,” said Robert S. DiPaola, director of the Cancer Institute. “We are extremely grateful for this gift that will enable our team to recruit a highly-accomplished leader in this field so that we can further advance the innovative work we do every day and apply it to our youngest patients.”

Under the new chair, precision medicine will be advanced to the next level.  Through genomic analysis, this type of research identifies alterations in cancer cells so that targeted therapies can be applied.  Research taking place as part of a clinical trial includes pediatric patients who have rare or poor prognosis cancers.  The aim of the research, DiPaola said, is to make genomic analysis a personalized standard of care for all patients.


For media inquiries, contact Michele Fisher at 732-235-9872 or michele.fisher@rutgers.edu.