Donor’s long-term commitment supports cancer research

The bequest will establish the Laurence B. Lewis Fund for Hematological Malignancies as a permanent fund within the University’s endowment.
Photo of Laury Lewis in his garden
Laury Lewis, pictured at his home garden in Evanston, IL. In addition to supporting cancer research at UChicago Medicine, Lewis is a master gardner and serves as chairman of the Sheffield Garden Walk. Photo by Nancy Wong.

“Cancer can affect anyone,” said Laurence “Laury” Lewis of Evanston. “Even if you’re a triathlete, eating the healthiest meals, it can just come out of nowhere.”

Lewis has supported cancer research at the University of Chicago Medicine for 38 years, beginning in the early 1980s after his father, Irving “Bud” Lewis, passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

After witnessing the pain his father endured while undergoing chemotherapy and seeing others face the disease, Lewis knew cancer research was where he wanted to prioritize his philanthropy. He was also inspired by a generous gift from a close family friend, Everett Kovler, who dedicated an oncology laboratory at the University of Chicago in Bud’s memory.

Lewis has contributed ever since in memory of his father and later his mother, Shirley.

“I couldn’t imagine a year going by without making a gift because it is so important to me,” Lewis said. “Every time I write a check, my parents’ memories are on it.”

Through meetings with faculty members like Michelle Le Beau, PhD, and Bernard Roizman, ScD, as well as events like the annual Simon M. Shubitz dinner hosted by the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation (UCCRF), he learned more about the University’s cancer research programs, which deepened his commitment to supporting them.

“There have been so many monumental discoveries in cancer research at the University of Chicago, especially over the last 10-15 years,” Lewis said. “There is no doubt in my mind that if my dad were still living today and had the type of cancer he did, the prospects of his survival would be much better.”

Lewis recently named the University of Chicago as a beneficiary of his will. His bequest will establish the Laurence B. Lewis Fund for Hematological Malignancies as a permanent fund within the University’s endowment to support cancer research.

“I like the idea of creating something that will benefit cancer patients not only today but for years to come,” Lewis said.

He feels confident that his bequest will be used wisely to support future research activities.

“The return you get for every dollar you give to the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCCRF doesn’t even compare to what you might get elsewhere,” he said.

The fund will not only serve as a culmination of Lewis’s decades of giving to the University but will also be the beginning of an investment that will grow over time and support future generations of cancer researchers.

“We are grateful for Laury’s long-term support for the University, which has allowed our researchers to explore new avenues and approaches, including better understanding the biology of blood cancers,” said Adekunle “Kunle” Odunsi, MD, PhD, director of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center. “By establishing this endowed fund, he will create a lasting legacy and help seed tomorrow’s discoveries that will improve the lives of cancer patients here and worldwide.”

If you would like to learn more about how you can make a gift to help stop cancer, contact Katy Solomon at

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