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Israel Cancer Research Fund Honors Actor Michael Douglas, Dr. Morton Coleman, Dean Blumenthal at NYC Gala

Israel Cancer Research Fund Honors Actor Michael Douglas, Dr. Morton Coleman, Dean Blumenthal at NYC Gala

Ben Brafman (right) presenting award to Michael Douglas.

By Staff Writer

December 15, 2017 Hanukkah issue

The Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) Tower of Hope Gala paid tribute to Actor Michael Douglas, Dean Blumenthal, Executive Vice President and COO of Lion Brand Yarn Company, and Dr. Morton Coleman, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Weill Medical College and the Director of the Center for Lymphoma and Myeloma at the New York- Presbyterian Hospital on November 28 at the Ziegfield Ballroom in New York. Benjamin Brafman, criminal defense attorney, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Close to $700,000 was raised during the evening, of which $240,000 is designated for the Immunotherapy Promise, a groundbreaking collaboration between ICRF and the Cancer Research Institute. The Israel Cancer Research Fund has an additional collaboration with The City of Hope in California.

A supporter of ICRF for more than 30 years, Mr. Brafman reminded the guests that “there isn't anyone in this room who hasn't battled cancer” and that “ICRF is supporting researchers who are developing treatments and therapies that will keep people alive longer and longer.”

The first honoree, Michael Douglas, is an actor with over forty years of experience in theatre, film, and television, branched out into independent feature production in 1975 with the Academy Award-winning "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". Since then, as an actor-producer, he has chosen projects that reflect changing trends and public concerns. Over the years, he has been involved in controversial and politically influential pictures--"The China Syndrome," “Traffic” --and popular films such as "Fatal Attraction" and "Romancing the Stone". Douglas is the recipient of numerous awards including the AFI Lifetime Achievement, Producers Guild Award, New York Film Society Charlie Chaplin Award, and the Israel Genesis Prize. The Genesis Prize came with a $1 million award. Since Douglas donated that money for initiatives to foster inclusion of intmarried couples into the Jewish community (among other causes), that year the prize money was doubled.

Upon receiving “The Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts” from Ben Brafman, Michael Douglas remarked: “It is a tremendous honor to be with ICRF this evening. I am a cancer survivor—seven years since my diagnosis of tongue cancer. I congratulate ICRF for its important work in supporting cancer research.” Douglas went through a year of misdiagnosis until his cancer was discovered. He urges dentists to include a check with fingers in the mouth as a preventive measure. Douglas thanked the Genesis Prize for bringing him “back to the tribe.” That process started whenhis son and daughter decided to go for their Bar & Bat Mitzahs. His father, Kirk, who just celebrated his 101st birthday and has written about his Jewish heritage was another factor. In Bronfman's introduction of Douglas, he said there were two reasons he accepted the honor from ICRF. One was as a personal favor and the other was that “he gets it.” Indeed he does, and he helped some of the attendees get it as well.

Dr. Coleman was awarded “The Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine.” He has vast expertise in the treatment of lymphoma, myeloma, waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, and associated diseases. He has also played an instrumental role in devising the standard treatment for Hodgkin's disease, the use of infusional chemotherapy in lymphoma, the concept of dose intensity and its use in myeloma and lymphoma, the combined use of thalidomide in myeloma, the role of PET scanning in lymphoma, the innovative applications of monoclonal antibodies in lymphoma and many other developments. Dr. Coleman is Chairman of the Medical Affiliate Board of the Lymphoma Research Foundation and is on its board of directors and scientific review committee. He is also a member of the scientific review committees of the International Waldenstrom Foundation and the Research Fund for Waldenstrom Ltd. Dr. Coleman originated and serves as Chairman of the largest conference on lymphoma, myeloma and related diseases in the United States. He has served as the chairman, consultant or member reviewer for many scientific committees and has authored hundreds of publications in the field of blood cancers. Dr. Coleman and has been designated one of the “Best Doctors in America.”

Dean Blumenthal accepted the “Lifetime Achievement Award in Business.” His family-owned company, Lion Brand Yarns, was founded in 1878 by his great grandfather. Dean's parents were founding members of ICRF. His father, George, served as Vice President of the Board of ICRF; his mother, Rose, assumed George's board seat after his passing. For Dean, accepting the ICRF honor is “his way of preserving his father's legacy while helping to find treatments and cures for cancer.” He is the recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for New Jersey, and a board member of the Center for Retailing Excellence at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

"In Michael Douglas, Dean Blumenthal and Dr. Morton Coleman, we had the perfect portfolio of honorees,” said ICRF President Rob Densen. “Michael Douglas is a courageous and forthright survivor/advocate, Dean and his family have been spectacularly generous and were leaders of this organization for many years, while Morton Coleman is a physician, researcher, healer and humanitarian without peer. If humankind has reason to be hopeful about the fight against this dreadful disease – and we do -- it's because of people like Michael Douglas, Dean Blumenthal and Mort Coleman. It is a privilege to honor them.”

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The ICRF is the largest charitable organization outside of Israel solely devoted to supporting cancer research in Israel. Grants issued by ICRF have gone to hundreds of researchers (ICRF grantees include the first two Israelis to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, multiple winners of the coveted Israel Prize and other global scientific awards) at two dozen leading research institutions, universities, and hospitals across Israel. The efforts of Israeli cancer researchers have resulted in significant cancer breakthroughs and in the development of breakthrough cancer drugs, including Doxil, Gleevec and Velcade. ICRF's current collaborations with two major cancer research organizations, The Cancer Research Institute and City of Hope, demonstrate the global research community's respect for ICRF.

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