December 14, 2022
Comparative oncology research center at Purdue to be named for Evan and Sue Ann Werling
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue University Board of Trustees has approved the naming of the Evan and Sue Ann Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center in recognition of the donors’ $10 million gift. The center, part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, will partner with the Purdue Center for Cancer Research (PCCR) to advance cancer research benefiting pets and humans.
The university will use the Werlings’ gift to establish the new center, fund the Evan and Sue Ann Werling Professorship of Comparative Oncology, and create an endowment to provide unrestricted support for promising cancer research and clinical trials.
“Evan and Sue Ann’s generous gift will help transform the research potential of Purdue’s dedicated scientists,” said Willie Reed, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We’re thankful for their long-standing and valuable partnership as we pursue giant leaps in comparative oncology.”
Working in collaboration with the PCCR, the center will conduct high-impact research in pets with naturally occurring forms of cancer, which mimic those same forms in humans. This makes the benefit across species possible.
“This gift will have a huge impact on advancing our studies in the field of comparative oncology, which is aimed at improving the outlook for pet dogs and potentially other pets, as well as humans, facing cancer,” said Deborah Knapp, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology, the Dolores L. McCall Professor of Comparative Oncology and director of the Purdue Comparative Oncology Program. “Most pet owners have human family members and friends who have been afflicted with cancer. Therefore, they are excited that we may learn something important from their pet that will ultimately help humans at the same time we help their pet.”
The Werlings, of Nashville, Indiana, share a passion for improving the lives of animals and people. A former small-business owner, Sue Ann has served 11 years on the Brown County Humane Society’s board of directors, including eight as president. Evan is the author of “The American Dream Is Real,” which chronicles his rise from small-town Indiana to his success as a CPA, entrepreneur and career mentor. His connection with Purdue began over 40 years ago when he first lectured engineering students on the importance of having a strong financial background for career success.
When the Werlings’ beloved dog Brandi was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2005, the couple developed a life-changing relationship with Purdue. Knapp helped enroll Brandi in two studies that extended her life 15 months when the median survival time with most treatments ranged from four to nine months at that time.
“Purdue gave us more time with Brandi,” Sue Ann said. “We were intrigued by their methods and the humane way in which they approached their work.”
The exceptional care Brandi received inspired the couple to create an endowment for canine cancer research at Purdue in 2020. Their recent naming gift complements that fund and sustains and expands cancer research at the university in perpetuity.
“Advances in cancer treatments are identified through research, and Purdue is one of the finest research institutions,” Evan said. “We hope the university will be able to expand the early detection of cancers so we can identify them before they’re untreatable.”
“It’s a very hopeless time when your animal or loved one has cancer,” Sue Ann said. “This gives me hope that there will be options for people moving forward. We want to be a part of the solution for the future.”
The newly named Evan and Sue Ann Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center meaningfully connects two Purdue health care entities. The College of Veterinary Medicine, Indiana’s only veterinary college, has produced more than 3,000 veterinarians who practice in all 50 states and fill important roles in government, industry and academia. Since 1976 the PCCR has brought together hundreds of researchers from across the university to share ideas, insights and findings to drive cancer research further than any single laboratory could do alone.
“Evan and Sue Ann are passionate about improving the health outlook for humans and pets afflicted with cancer,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “Thanks to their generosity, the Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center will pursue groundbreaking research toward developing innovative cancer treatments. We are ever grateful for their partnership in this important work that will have a far-reaching impact.”
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