Hope in difficult times

$3-million gift for research chair in psychosocial oncology

By McGill Reporter Staff

Despite the worldwide economic meltdown, friends of McGill continue to support the vital work being done here. Thanks to a shared $3-million donation from long-time supporters Christine and Herschel Victor and Hope & Cope of the Jewish General Hospital (JGH), McGill, together with Hope & Cope, is establishing a chair in psychosocial oncology. The chair will focus research efforts on cancer survivorship and recovery in a community-based approach.

“While cancer is the leading cause of premature death in this country, historical data shows that more and more people are surviving each year,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of Medicine. “A chair in psychosocial oncology supports an expanded and interdisciplinary approach to cancer care that focuses on improving quality of life. It builds on the outstanding partnerships and visionary work under way between Hope & Cope, the Jewish General Hospital and McGill.”

“Since 1981, Hope & Cope has been a pioneer in providing psychosocial care for cancer patients and their families, and we are passionate about furthering research in this area,” said Sheila Kussner, Founder and Chairman of Hope & Cope.

At the program’s core are 300 volunteers who are guided by a staff of professional support workers.  “This is a first for a community organization, and it speaks to the strong relationships we have built with other cancer care networks and organizations,” Hope & Cope Executive Director Suzanne O’Brien said.

In collaboration with Hope & Cope, the new chair will speed up the transfer of research and knowledge to patients, while sharing best practices across support organizations in the community. Its creation complements both McGill’s all-new Psychosocial Oncology programs and the pioneering support provided by Hope & Cope to meet the needs of patients, families and friends throughout all stages of cancer, from diagnosis to treatment, recovery, survivorship and, when necessary, palliative care and


While leading with vital  research, education and care, the new chair will also attract talented young scientists and students from around the world to foster the next generation of academic leaders and practitioners in this critical field.

“The Victors’ latest gift to fund a research chair in psychosocial oncology will allow us to build on the momentum created by so many dedicated scientists, clinicians and concerned individuals in the fight against cancer, and develop treatments that consider the entire continuum of care,” JGH Executive Director Dr. Hartley Stern said. “It brings us one step closer to realizing a vision that we expect will have far-reaching benefits in the communities we serve.”