Patient’s gift funds myeloma research

Harvey and Linda Saligman have committed to establish the Harvey and Linda Saligman Multiple Myeloma Research Fund in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Oncology.

The gift is in recognition of the division’s excellence in the field and in gratitude for treatment received for the disease. It will support multiple myeloma research to understand the root causes of the disease and develop new treatments that will improve the outcomes for myeloma patients.

“The Saligmans’ gift offers the opportunity for Washington University to enhance its already impressive strengths in the areas of multiple myeloma research and treatment,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “We are very grateful for the Saligmans’ compassionate action in supporting this important endeavor.”

Harvey Saligman, a St. Louis-area private investor, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma about three years ago. He has been treated by Ravi Vij, M.D., an oncologist with the Siteman Cancer Center. Saligman’s myeloma is now in remission.

“Having been associated with Washington University for more than 20 years, I know its capabilities — I know it has great physicians and researchers,” Saligman said. “And when I learned I had myeloma, Linda and I decided that we had the chance to make a huge difference for many people by supporting research into this disease.”

Multiple myeloma, also called myeloma or plasma cell myeloma, is the second most common type of blood cancer. Myeloma cells collect in the bone marrow and may damage the solid part of the bone.

Division of Oncology chief John DiPersio, M.D., Ph.D., also deputy director of the Siteman Cancer Center and the Lewis T. and Rosalind B. Apple Chair in Oncology, said the division’s basic scientific research is among the best in the country, and its clinical research programs are growing rapidly.

“We are at a critical point and ready to go from a local and regional center to a national myeloma center,” DiPersio said. “The Saligmans have made their generous gift with the hope that it will create excitement and enthusiasm in the community and be self-perpetuating. It is an important gift because funding from other sources is not enough — community and philanthropic support is what will make the difference to our success.”

Harvey Saligman has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1986. He is a partner in Cynwyd Investments, a family real-estate partnership.

The Saligmans also have given funds to support undergraduate scholarships at the University and to construct the Saligman Family Atrium at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. They also established the Craig K. Reiss, M.D., Award for Excellence in Teaching at the School of Medicine.

Saligman found he had myeloma after developing severe hip pain that made walking nearly impossible. A scan of the hip showed a myeloma tumor. Fortunately, hip surgery, radiation therapy and a bone-marrow-suppressing drug eliminated his tumor and the pain.

“Linda and I have learned that myeloma has had comparatively little research support,” Saligman said. “We realized we could help change that and, at the same time, bring the credit to Washington University, whose quest for excellence has kept us involved over the years.”