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Backing better care for the next generation

Mike Dougherty and his family hope that their support will help physician-researchers identify the most effective way to treat prostate cancer. (Photo: Tim Rummelhoff)

Mike Dougherty’s reason for supporting prostate cancer research and care at the University of Minnesota is simple.

“It’s not about me,” says the prominent Minneapolis investment banker and two-time cancer survivor, who also has lost two brothers to prostate cancer. “It’s about my grandsons.”

Dougherty first learned that he had prostate cancer in 1999. After seeking help at Mayo Clinic, he had surgery to remove his prostate gland. But when the disease came back less than a year later, Dougherty and his wife, Kathy, were shaken.

They set out on a cross-country trip, visiting 13 cancer centers in search of a consensus on the best treatment. Instead, they came home to Minnesota with 13 different opinions, no consensus, and sometimes an obvious bias toward a physician’s chosen specialty. On top of this, they found that information critical to making treatment decisions was hard to come by and often difficult to understand.

The Doughertys came away from the journey determined to change this experience for other families dealing with prostate cancer.

That’s why in 2005 they threw their support behind the creation of a new, multidisciplinary Center for Prostate Cancer (now known as the Institute for Prostate and Urologic Cancers) at the University of Minnesota—a place that’s not only in Mike Dougherty’s hometown, but also home to a world-class medical center. The couple established the Dougherty Family Chair in Uro-Oncology with a $1 million gift commitment to help get it going.

Today the Doughertys are re-energized in their support of the Institute for Prostate and Urologic Cancers, now under the direction of Badrinath Konety, M.D., M.B.A., who holds the endowed chair they created. And they’re hoping that the community will share their excitement for the institute’s new direction.

“Konety is an amazing person, and he’s a very skilled practitioner,” Mike Dougherty says. “As a visionary and as a strategic planner and as somebody who cares for patients, he is very, very good. In fact, he’s excellent.”

Dougherty eagerly awaits the day that prostate cancer physicians are able to offer their patients solid, completely unbiased, evidence-based answers about what treatment is best.

“You can find brilliant, reasonable people recommending today up to five different treatments,” he says. “They all have about the same results, and they all have about the same side effects.”

That’s precisely why research is important, he says, especially research at an institution with an academic medical center such as the University of Minnesota—to help give patients their best chance at a full, cancer-free life.

By Nicole Endres

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