Knights establish breast health center, program at Siteman

Each year, more than 50,000 women come to the Breast Health Center at the Siteman Cancer Center for screening mammograms, diagnostic workups, breast cancer treatments and follow-up visits.

Charles F. and Joanne Knight have donated $5 million to support these vital programs at Siteman. 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,” said 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 Siteman, the breast center is playing an important role in the first large multicenter study, led by the National Cancer Institute, 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,” said Timothy J. Eberlein, M.D., director of the Siteman Cancer Center and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor, the Bixby Professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery.

“I extend my heartfelt thanks to Chuck and Joanne for their extraordinary leadership and commitment to the Siteman Cancer Center,” he said. “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 added 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 Joanne have been actively involved in the St. Louis region, the University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital for more than 30 years.

Charles 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 1997 Robert S. Brookings Award.

The previous year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science in recognition of his service to the University and the St. Louis community.

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

Knight serves as chairman of the Olin School of Business 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.

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.