Roberts Family Gives $15 Million for Proton Therapy Center

Interior of cyclotron, which accelerates proton stream to near light-speed prior to targeting patients’ tumors.

This past November, Aileen Roberts, the wife of Brian L. Roberts W’81, successfully completed her radiation treatment for breast cancer at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Less than two weeks later, Brian and his father, Ralph J. Roberts W’41 Hon’05, announced that the family was giving $15 million to the proposed proton-therapy center for cancer treatment.

The Roberts Proton Therapy Center, to be built next to the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine as part of the Abramson Cancer Center, will be the largest such facility in the world. It is expected to open in 2009 at a total cost of approximately $144 million, and will treat an estimated 3,000 patients a year.

Proton therapy, the most precise form of advanced radiation therapy available to treat certain cancers and other diseases, targets a focused beam of high-dose radiation to a specific tumor site. By reducing the destruction of normal tissue that surrounds the tumor, proton therapy has fewer side effects and clinical complications. It also enhances a physician’s ability to treat tumors close to critical organs.

Ralph Roberts is the founder of Comcast Corporation, and Brian is the Philadelphia-based cable giant’s chairman and CEO. The family’s philanthropy, said Penn President Amy Gutmann, “will be a legacy of life and hope for cancer patients in the Philadelphia area and beyond.”

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