Pharmaceutical leader Cam Garner and his wife Wanda, a cancer workshop facilitator and philanthropic fundraiser, are longtime supporters of medical research and treatment efforts at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health. Recently, the Rancho Santa Fe couple gave $2 million to establish the Garner Family Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Blood and Marrow Transplant to support excellence in research, teaching and clinical care at UC San Diego Health in the field of blood cancers in general, and blood and marrow transplant (BMT) in particular.
Edward D. Ball, MD, director and chief of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at UC San Diego Health, has been selected as the inaugural chair holder. A board-certified hematologist and medical oncologist, he leads an interdisciplinary team of physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, social workers and support staff. He is also an investigator in clinical trials for blood cancers, offering innovative therapies rarely offered at other hospitals.
“We thank Cam and Wanda for their long service and support of Moores Cancer Center,” said Director Scott Lippman, MD. “Dr. Ball embodies this named chair, with a wonderful fusion of humility, integrity and visionary leadership that is the Garner legacy. Ted is an exceptional physician-scientist—caring and compassionate, bringing a singular spectrum and breadth of expertise to patient care. His paradigm-changing research has led to practice-changing advances, launching a new field of immune-checkpoint blockade in the transplant setting.”
The only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the San Diego region, Moores Cancer Center includes—all under one roof on the campus of the University of California San Diego—a diverse, dedicated cadre of clinicians and scientists focused on understanding and improving treatments of cancer.
For Cam Garner, there are personal reasons why he gives his time and resources to Moores Cancer Center. “My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was six years old and passed away when I was 17. In addition, I lost a sister and brother to cancer, both at an early age. My experience with family members being treated for cancer was that they all had to travel significant distances to seek world-class care. To say the least, this is very disruptive to the entire family and I believe it affects the outcome of those being treated.”
UC San Diego Health has the scientific and clinical expertise to treat all cancers. “We are working hard to see that no San Diegan would ever have to leave the region to receive the best cancer treatment,” said Wanda Garner. “We invest our time, our talent and our financial resources in Moores Cancer Center because of its vision and dedication to that vision.”
As a cancer researcher more than 30 years, Ball understands firsthand the critical role private supports plays. “The current climate of funding for federal and foundation grants is the most competitive ever, meaning that more talented scientists are competing for fewer dollars from the traditional sources—and many are coming up short,” he said. “Private support is a crucial element to supplement and continue great scientific discovery.”
A professor in the Department of Medicine, he studies all aspects of stem cell transplantation and has patented four of his cancer treatment innovations. Ball has published more than 250 journal articles and book chapters based on his basic and clinical research. He offers chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy to adults with certain cancers. CAR T-cell therapy harnesses the patient’s own immune cells to recognize and kill cancer cells, one of many types of personalized cancer therapies offered at UC San Diego Health.
Listed as one of “America’s Top Doctors” for the last 10 years, Ball is a past recipient of the Stohlman Award from the Leukemia Society of America and a past steering committee member of the prestigious BMT Clinical Trials Network. Prior to joining UC San Diego Health, he was director of the blood and marrow transplant program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute for seven years. Ball completed fellowships in hematology and oncology at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. He completed residency training at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.
Cam Garner, a pharmaceutical executive with more than 40 years of experience in the health care industry, serves as chair of the Moores Cancer Center Board of Visitors. He was part of the senior management team that built Hybritech Inc. He served as CEO and chairman of Dura Pharmaceuticals from 1989 to 2000, when Elan Corp. acquired it for $1.8 billion. Since then, he has founded or co-founded numerous specialty pharmaceutical companies in San Diego, including Cadence Pharmaceuticals Inc., SkinMedica, Xcel Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Zavante Therapeutics, Inc., among others. A graduate of Virginia Wesleyan University, he earned an MBA at Baldwin-Wallace College.
A licensed marriage and family therapist, Wanda Garner closed her private practice three years ago to conduct workshops for couples using Hold Me Tight developed by Sue Johnson. For the last six years, she has offered workshops to cancer patients and their partners at Moores Cancer Center. The focus of these workshops is on the impact of cancer in a couple’s relationship and the importance of a safe, secure loving bond which confers multiple benefits to the patient and caregiver. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a MS in rehabilitation counseling and United States International University (now Alliant International University) with an MA in marriage and family therapy.
The couple passionately believes that cancer can be conquered through cutting edge research, personalized treatment and care. “The members of the Moores Cancer Center team are dedicated, driven, persistent, compassionate, caring and are outstanding in their careers,” said Wanda Garner. “I hope in my children’s and certainly my grandchildren’s lifetime, cancer will be nearly wiped out.”
The endowed faculty chair was established as part of the university’s Chancellor’s Chair Challenge to support the recruitment and retention of distinguished faculty. The Garners’ gift contributes to the Campaign for UC San Diego. Learn more at campaign.ucsd.edu. —News release