Purdue Comparative Oncology Research Center Named for Evan and Sue Ann Werling

Friday, January 13, 2023

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The group is pictured together in the Werling's home
Sue Ann and Evan Werling (seated) received a Purdue President’s Council award, the Crystal Boilermaker Special Train, on December 11 in recognition of their lifetime of loyalty, commitment and generosity. Pictured standing (from left) are Purdue Veterinary Medicine Dean Willie Reed; Dr. Deborah Knapp, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology; and Matt Folk, president and CEO of the Purdue for Life Foundation. (Photo provided)

The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine now is home to a newly named center for comparative oncology research. In December, the Purdue Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Evan and Sue Ann Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center in recognition of the donors’ $10 million gift. As a part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, the center will partner with the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research to advance cancer research benefiting pets and humans.

The Werlings’ gift will 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 Purdue Veterinary Medicine Dean Willie Reed. “We’re thankful for their long-standing and valuable partnership as we pursue giant leaps in comparative oncology.”

Working in collaboration with the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research, the center will conduct high-impact research in pets that have naturally occurring forms of cancer, which mimic those same forms in humans. This comparative approach to research makes possible the benefit across species.

Dr. Knapp performs an ultrasound on a dog as colleagues assist
Dr. Deborah Knapp conducts an ultrasound in her role as a veterinary oncology specialist in the College of Veterinary Medicine. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

“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 Dr. Deborah Knapp, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology, the Dolores L. McCall Professor of Comparative Oncology, and research center director. “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 gave lectures to 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. Dr. Knapp helped enroll Brandi in two studies that extended her life 15 months when the median survival time with most treatments at the time ranged from four to nine months.

“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.

Evan and Sue Ann are pictured smiling sitting outside beneath a shade tree
Donors Evan and Sue Ann Werling are helping fund comparative oncology research through a $10 million gift to Purdue University. (Photo provided)

“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 graduated more than 3,000 veterinarians who practice in all 50 states and also fill important roles in government, industry and academia. Since 1976 the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research 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.

The action by the Board of Trustees to name the center came as Mitch Daniels was concluding his tenure as Purdue president. “Evan and Sue Ann are passionate about improving the health outlook for humans and pets afflicted with cancer,” 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.”


Writer(s): Purdue for Life

Source: Purdue for Life

Category: Cancer, Giving, Research

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