Dartmouth Medical School

For Release: December 9, 2005
Contact: Deborah G. Kimbell 603-653-1913

The Reverend Preston T. and Virginia R. Kelsey establish "Distinguished Chair in Cancer" at Norris Cotton Cancer Center

LEBANON, NH - A Hanover couple with a history of generosity to the community has made a $5 million commitment to Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. The gift from the Reverend Preston "Pete" T. Kelsey and his wife, Virginia "Winkie" Kelsey is being given in recognition of NCCC Director Mark Israel, MD, and his vision and achievement in making progress in the fight to understand, treat, and prevent cancer.

The Preston T. and Virginia R. Kelsey Distinguished Chair in Cancer will support the director of the cancer center in his efforts in providing comprehensive care of the highest quality through innovative research, accelerating the impact of scientific discovery to the patient, and cancer prevention initiatives.

The research and teaching activities of the Cancer Center are part of the work of Dartmouth Medical School (DMS), itself a part of Dartmouth College and DHMC. DMS Dean Stephen P. Spielberg, MD, said: ""This generous gift exemplifies the kind of support that is so vital to Dartmouth Medical School. Endowments such as this provide the basis for our ability to address all of our missions - excellence in patient care, education, and research into the future."

The Rev. Kelsey has been involved with NCCC for many years, both as a member of the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, which he joined in 2001, and also as a longtime supporter, with his wife, of the Prouty Century Ride and Fitness Walk, an annual fundraising event. It was through this association that the Kelseys came to know Dr. Israel, and decided to support his work and the work of the Center in a substantial and lasting way.

"In my generation, cancer was the dreaded word. If cancer was applied to you in any way personally, it was sort of the kiss of death. We've had a lot of conversations with Mark (Israel) about the whole world of cancer and cancer research and the breakthroughs that he's seen and expects to see more of in the coming decade; extraordinary breakthroughs are on the horizon. That's the dramatic fruit of the continuing research that's going on here," said the Rev. Kelsey.

Under Dr. Israel's leadership, Norris Cotton Cancer Center has increased its international reputation with significant advances in the fight against cancer, particularly in the areas of imaging, immunotherapy, and chemoprevention. A specialist in the molecular and cellular biology of pediatric brain tumors himself, Israel has assembled an impressive team of researchers and physicians whose work at the cancer center is transforming the way medicine and treatments are delivered, taking advances at the lab bench and moving them directly to improved patient care. In recognition of these achievements and the promise the Cancer Center holds for the future, the National Cancer Institute recently doubled the funding it provides for critical research activities.

"I'm convinced that Dartmouth has found a remarkable person in Mark as director of the Cancer Center," the Rev. Kelsey said, "and that with his leadership the Cancer Center will continue to grow as a leading research institute and treatment center for cancer in the United States. Hopefully this gift will help that continue and even to grow."

Dr. Israel said the gift by the Kelseys is especially meaningful because it comes from residents of the local community. "I am honored and enormously grateful to receive this commitment in support of our work at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center," he said. "All donor support is critically important in allowing us to further our mission, but this tangible expression of faith and appreciation from our own community is hugely significant in inspiring our talented staff, and as a recognition that all our work reflects our commitment to this community and the patients for whom we provide care every day."

The Rev. Kelsey is the retired director of the Board for Theological Education. A graduate of Dartmouth College Class of 1958, he went on to earn his MDIV from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1961. He began his career as Curate of St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in Hanover in 1962. He then moved to California, where he was parish priest from 1966-1984, when he assumed the post of executive director of the Board for Theological Education.

Mrs. Kelsey graduated from Smith College with a BA in art. She is an internationally known sculptor, whose work was chosen by the U.N. to represent the United States in a worldwide exhibit. She did graduate work at Dartmouth College with Paul Sample and Richard Wagner, earning a designation of special student in the Class of 1961. She is currently an instructor at the Ava Gallery in Lebanon, NH.

This is the fourth endowment the Kelseys have made to the Dartmouth community. In addition to the NCCC gift, they have endowments at Dartmouth College's Tucker Foundation, the Hood Museum, and the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kelsey gift to support advances in cancer care and research addresses a major priority in the Transforming Medicine Campaign for Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. To date, the Campaign has raised $111million toward its 2009 goal of $250 million, the largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by the two institutions.

Norris Cotton Cancer Center is a premier cancer care, research, education, and treatment center, one of 31 in the nation to receive the designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes for Health. It is part of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where the expertise, dedication, and compassion of one of the nation's top hospitals and the scholarship, research, and leadership of one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished medical schools come together to form New Hampshire's only academic medical center.


Photo(s) of Mr. and Mrs. Kelsey available on request