$2M endowed chair funded to help develop new treatments at Providence Cancer Institute

Providence Cancer Institute recently announced that Marka Crittenden, M.D., Ph.D., director of Translational Radiation Research and co-leader of the Integrated Therapies Lab at the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence, is the recipient of the Michael Kelley Endowed Chair for Cancer Research. This newly created endowment honors Michael “Mike” Kelley, successful attorney and husband of Laurie Kelley, chief philanthropy officer and group vice president for Providence. Mike, a community leader and long-time supporter of non-profit organizations, died in October 2020 after a 22-month battle with stage IV head and neck cancer.

Honoring a “spirit of service”

When Mike got his diagnosis a few days before Christmas in 2018, he turned to the world-class experts at Providence Cancer Institute. Like thousands of patients cared for by Providence, Mike’s doctors suggested he participate in clinical trials searching for new treatments, specifically in the areas of immunotherapy. After Mike’s death, his family and friends sought a way to honor his memory and commitment to his community by making a meaningful gift to support future cancer research at Providence.

“Mike loved to help people, and he was always volunteering for non-profits or coaching one of the kids’ sports teams. It’s that spirit of service in Mike and everyone who is cared for that we want to honor,” said wife, Laurie.

Powering the future of cancer research

Dr. Marka Crittenden, a radiation oncologist with The Oregon Clinic and member of Mike’s care team, was selected to receive the honor. Dr. Crittenden is a physician scientist trained in radiation oncology and immunology. Her focus lies in the development of immunotherapies for cancer, and she is an active investigator of clinical trials combining immunotherapy with radiation therapy in melanoma and cancers of the head, neck, kidney, brain and pancreas. Dr. Crittenden plans to use the endowment to recruit additional scientists, conduct leading-edge cancer research and provide new treatments for patients.

“Research motivates me: I’ve got to go back to the lab, I have to figure out a new option, I have to find something else that’s better that we can offer these patients. That’s what keeps me going. It’s very special to know the research I am doing to improve lives of cancer patients will be done in honor of Mike,” said Dr. Crittenden.

The endowed chair was funded by gifts from Mark and Kathy Parker and Darlene Shiley. Kathy is a community volunteer and Mark is executive chairman and former president and CEO of Nike. Darlene is president of The Shiley Foundation and a long-time patron of the arts, medical research, and education. “It’s a privilege to continue to push forward in Mike’s honor, because he was always looking ahead and ever selfless,” said the Parkers.

Although the initial phase of the endowed chair has been funded, Providence Foundations of Oregon continues to seek additional support to further the important work of this endowed chair. To learn more and make a donation, visit ProvidenceFoundations.org/mikekelley.

About Providence Cancer Institute:

Providence Cancer Institute, a part of Providence St. Joseph Health, offers the latest in cancer services, including diagnostic, treatment, prevention, education, support and internationally-renowned research. Providence Cancer Institute is home to the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a world-class research facility located within the Robert W. Franz Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon, and is a recognized leader in the field of cancer immunotherapy since 1993. Investigators lead more than 400 active clinical trials in key areas such as cancers of the: breast, colon/rectum, prostate, lung, esophagus, liver and pancreas, head and neck, ovary, skin and blood. Other studies are investigating treatments for COVID-19. Learn more at providenceoregon.org/cancer.

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