A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

$25 Million Gift Transforms Cancer Center


Generous support from the Legorreta family will accelerate discovery of new treatments for patients.

A $25 million gift from accomplished life sciences entrepreneur and investor Pablo Legorreta and his wife, Almudena, will advance a plan to transform Brown University’s recently launched cancer center into a world-class cancer center located in Rhode Island.

The gift will rename the Cancer Center at Brown University, established in 2020 to build on the strengths of the Joint Program in Cancer Biology at Brown and Lifespan, as the Legorreta Cancer Center. It will also position the center to work toward National Cancer Institute designation, the highest federal rating a cancer center can achieve. NCI designation recognizes centers across the nation that meet rigorous standards for state-of-the-art research focused on developing new approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.

The $25 million investment in the center will enable its leaders to recruit world-class physician-scientists, leading investigators, and other experts; launch pilot research projects; and build an infrastructure that includes the expertise, equipment, and support to bring basic science discoveries, new technologies, and other innovations to clinical therapies and interventions to patients facing cancer diagnoses.

University President Christina H. Paxson says the Legorreta family’s generous gift will support Brown’s goal for the center to advance innovative cancer research that ultimately leads to treatments for people in Providence, across the region, and well beyond.

“In providing the funding to bring aboard first-class talent and launch promising new research programs, this gift brings us closer to realizing the dream of a world-class, federally recognized cancer center right here in the state of Rhode Island,” Paxson says. “We are deeply grateful to Pablo and Almudena Legorreta for their generous investment in the potential for cancer research at Brown to transform into treatments that will one day make a positive impact on patients and their families.”

Pablo Legorreta is the founder and chief executive officer of Royalty Pharma—the largest buyer of biopharmaceutical royalties and a leading funder of innovation across the biopharmaceutical research and development ecosystem—and a trustee of Brown’s governing body, the Corporation of Brown University.

“I’m a passionate believer in the ability of science to advance progress and facilitate change,” Legorreta says. “It’s a privilege to be able to support the Brown cancer center’s mission of advancing scientific research to find better ways to treat cancer and improve patient care.”

Wafik S. El-Deiry, MD, PhD, an accomplished physician-scientist with deep expertise in cancer biology and clinical training in oncology, joined Brown in 2019 as director of the Joint Program in Cancer Biology at Brown and Lifespan and associate dean for oncologic sciences. He became inaugural director of the cancer center upon its 2020 launch and has worked to build new research collaborations across the Medical School and its affiliated hospitals with a particular focus on developing novel insights on the types of cancer most prevalent in Rhode Island.

“The gift will accelerate basic and translational research at Brown and expand the pool of world-class cancer expertise in Providence,” says El-Deiry, the Mencoff Family University Professor of Medical Science and a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. “The center will build a critical mass of investigators to do larger, more collaborative cancer-focused projects and bring in additional funding for cancer research.”

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