November 20, 1998

Ingram takes over board leadership of Cancer Center

Ingram takes over board leadership of Cancer Center

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Orrin Ingram II

Dr. Benjamin F. Byrd Jr., clinical professor of Surgery, will preside today over his final meeting as chairman of the Vanderbilt Cancer Center Board of Overseers after serving in that role since the board's inception and the creation of the VCC five years ago.

Byrd, a well-known Nashville cancer specialist, will be succeeded as board president by Orrin H. Ingram II, a member of the VCC Board since 1996 and chairman of the board's development committee.

During Byrd's tenure, the VCC has grown in size and stature, achieving designation by the National Cancer Institute as one of the nation's leaders in cancer care and research.

"The formation of the VCC was based on the strengths of many outstanding research and clinical programs that have existed at Vanderbilt for some time," Byrd said. "The organization of all these activities under the umbrella of the VCC has made for a much stronger program for the benefit of the region and the country. The VCC is truly an example of the whole being greater than its individual parts."

Byrd, a 1941 graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, is recognized for his many contributions to the fight against cancer as a physician and through his service to the community in such roles as president of the American Cancer Society.

The 20-member board has provided essential guidance for a number of VCC activities, including planning and implementing community outreach and education programs; assisting development and fund-raising efforts; advising on care delivery and patient support in the clinic; and advocating for the VCC and cancer research at the federal level. Among the board's advocacy activities: attendance by board members at the MARCH to Conquer Cancer in Washington, D.C., and hosting a Research Day for families of the Tennessee congressional delegation.

"The Board of Overseers plays a vital role in our success as one of the region's select few NCI-designated cancer centers," said Dr. Harold L. Moses, Benjamin F. Byrd Professor of Clinical Oncology and director of the VCC. "We are grateful to Dr. Byrd for his wisdom and leadership during these important years as we got our dream for this cancer center off the ground. His contributions have helped build a strong foundation for our future achievements.

"We are also very pleased that Orrin Ingram has agreed to step into Dr. Byrd's large shoes as chairman of the board. The enthusiasm and energy that Orrin has brought to his position as chair of the board's development committee has been phenomenal. I'm confident that his leadership and his dedication to the fight against cancer will be instrumental to our continued success."

Ingram, a 1982 graduate of Vanderbilt University, is chairman and CEO of Ingram Barge Co. He also has served, along with his brother John, as co-president of Ingram Industries since the death of his father, E. Bronson Ingram, from cancer in 1995.

"During our search for a cure for my father, we came to realize that we have one of the nation's very best cancer centers right here in Nashville," Ingram said.

"I hold a very personal grudge against cancer, and I decided to get involved with the VCC so I could do something to defeat this disease. I'm not a scientist or a doctor, so I can't win this fight by finding a cure or by providing some innovative treatment to a patient. What I can do is help make those things happen by supporting the doctors and scientists and by helping increase the funding they need to do this important work."

The Ingrams have long been strong supporters of Vanderbilt University and the VCC in particular. Before his death, Bronson Ingram established the Hortense B. Ingram Professorship of Molecular Oncology in the department of Cell Biology in honor of his mother, who also died of cancer. This endowed chair is held by Brigid L.M. Hogan, Ph.D.

The Ingrams' generosity has also provided major financial support for innovative pilot projects in cancer gene therapy research, for newly recruited VCC faculty to establish their research programs and for the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment for the VCC's gene therapy facility.