Charles and Joanne Knight establish Breast Health Center and Program

Each year, more than 50,000 women come to the Breast Health Center at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital for screening mammograms, diagnostic workups, breast cancer treatment and follow-up visits.

Charles F. Knight and Joanne Knight have donated $5 million to the Siteman Cancer Center to support these vital programs. The commitment will endow and establish the Joanne Knight Breast Health Center and Breast Cancer Program.

“The Knights’ long history of generosity and support has had a profound impact upon the growth and success of not only the Siteman Cancer Center, but also the entire Washington University community,” says University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

“This gift is further testament to Chuck and Joanne’s exceptional commitment and service to the St. Louis community and beyond. It is not an overstatement to say that their generosity will help better and, in many cases, save the lives of thousands in need.”

As one of the cornerstones of the Siteman Cancer Center, the breast center is playing an important role in the first large multicenter study, led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), comparing digital mammography to conventional mammography in the detection of breast cancer.

Next year, Matthew J. Ellis, M.D., Ph.D., head of the center’s Breast Cancer Program and section head of medical oncology, will launch a major interdisciplinary initiative focusing on the causes of breast cancer at a molecular level.

“I cannot imagine a more distinguished name to be associated with this center,” says Timothy J. Eberlein, M.D., director of the Siteman Cancer Center and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor, chairman of the Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“I extend my heartfelt thanks to Chuck and Joanne for their extraordinary leadership and commitment to the Siteman Cancer Center,” he says. “This gift will provide a steady stream of support and will enable the center to undertake new initiatives that will further benefit our patients.”

Eberlein adds that as a “key member of the Siteman Cancer Center Community Advisory Board, Joanne’s active participation has also provided us with valuable insights as we continue to enhance the center’s programs.”

Charles F. Knight was chief executive officer of Emerson from 1973-2000, chairman from 1974-2004 and is now chairman emeritus. He and his wife, Joanne, have been actively involved in the St. Louis region, Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital for more than 30 years.

Knight was instrumental in securing a $10 million commitment from Emerson’s Charitable Trust and the Anheuser-Busch Foundation to expand vital research space and support at the Siteman Cancer Center. This commitment is being used as a challenge to generate $20 million in additional matching support from the School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Siteman Cancer Center.

The first priority for funding through the Emerson-Busch grant has led to expansion of cancer research space and programs in a new cancer research facility. The basic and applied research and new clinical programs supported by this gift distinguish the Siteman Cancer Center and are keys to finding new treatments and diagnostic techniques for cancer patients.

Knight’s dedicated service to the University earned him the Robert S. Brookings Award in honor of his outstanding commitment to the University in 1997. The previous year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science in recognition of his service to Washington University and the St. Louis community.

At the medical center, he engineered the formation of BJC Health System, and he served as board chairman of that system from 1993-1998.

The Charles F. Knight Emergency and Trauma Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital was named in Knight’s honor. He served as chairman of Barnes Hospital from 1991-1995 and Barnes-Jewish Hospital from 1996-1998. The new emergency center — a 52,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility with 61 beds — opened in 2002.

Knight’s work on behalf of Washington University includes serving as a trustee from 1977 to 1990. He also co-chaired the corporate committee for the Campaign for Washington University. The campaign, which ended June 30, raised over $1.5 billion.

Knight serves as chairman of the Olin Business School National Council and is one of the school’s strongest supporters. In 2001, the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center at the Olin School of Business was completed and dedicated in his honor.

Outside the University, Knight has raised funds to support the St. Louis Public Schools, the Mathews-Dickey Boys Club and the Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center. He is a former trustee of the Missouri Botanical Garden and a former member of the Executive Board of the St. Louis Area Council/Boy Scouts of America and the Business Council.

Joanne Knight is also a community leader who has been involved with many University and charitable causes. At the University, she has served on the Board of Directors at Central Institute for the Deaf and is a former member of the School of Art National Council.

In the St. Louis community, she is a board member of St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and a past chairman of the chapter. She also served on the Board of St. Luke’s Hospital for 15 years and was the first woman to serve as chair of their board.

She was the Variety Club Woman of the Year in 1997, and a decade earlier, the Suburban Journals and KMOX Radio named her a “Woman of Achievement.”

The Siteman Cancer Center is announcing Jan. 4 that it has joined the highest-ranking cancer research and treatment institutions with a designation by the NCI as a comprehensive cancer center. This distinction recognizes Siteman’s broad-based research, outreach and education activities and provides the center with research funding of $21 million over five years.

Washington University School of Medicine’s full-time and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked second in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.