USC celebrates $60 million gift for Division of Hematology

By Jon Weiner and Ina Fried
From left, Keck School of Medicine Dean Carmen Puliafito, USC/Norris patient and Nohl estate trustee Larry Kelly and USC President Steven B. Sample unveil the $60 million gift that will support the new Jane Anne Nohl Division of Hematology and Center for the Study of Blood Diseases.

Photo/Jon Nalick
USC officials announced on Dec. 13 a historic $60 million gift for the Keck School of Medicine’s division of hematology and the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

University President Steven B. Sample hailed the gift from the Jane Anne Nohl estate as one of the largest philanthropic donations ever designated to a hematology program and the sixth largest gift to USC.

“This gift will be used to unlock the mysteries of cancer of the blood and other blood disorders,” Sample said. “This knowledge will lead to new and better therapies for treating these debilitating diseases.”

Peter Jones, director of the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, called the gift “one of the most exciting events that’s ever happened” for the Cancer Center and for the Keck School of Medicine.

The gift, which will support research in blood disorders and recruitment of outstanding physician researchers from around the country, was coordinated by Larry Kelly, a long-time friend of Nohl and her estate trustee. Nohl passed away earlier this year.

Nohl chose USC/Norris and the hematology division because of the outstanding care given to Kelly by Don Feinstein, professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine.

“When I came to Dr. Feinstein after I became ill, he really did save my life,” said Kelly. “He took a look at me and did some tests. Jane knew I wasn’t feeling well. She saw me after Dr. Feinstein treated me and was amazed. That’s when she decided to direct the majority of her charity to the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center with very specific instructions that she wanted it to go to hematology for research.”

Feinstein is a professor of medicine in the division of hematology at the Keck School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from Stanford and served his residency at LAC+USC Medical Center and a fellowship at New York University. He is a pioneer in the area of blood-related cancer who has been at USC for more than 40 years.

A standing ovation for Feinstein interrupted Sample’s remarks about three people—“a USC physician, his grateful patient and a visionary benefactor”—who made the announcement possible.

The gift will endow three chairs: one in honor of Larry Kelly and his wife, Janice; another in honor of Leslie Weiner, professor of neurology at the Keck School, who led Kelly to Feinstein; and the third in honor of professional nurse Maria Gonzales, who cared for Mrs. Nohl in her home for 13 years.

Also, the gift will re-establish the hematology division as “The Jane Anne Nohl Division of Hematology and Center for the Study of Blood Diseases” and provide for:

• The recruitment of three or four new “junior” faculty.

• The establishment of two Jane Anne Nohl post-doctoral two-year research fellowships.

• Programmatic and research support.

• Non-endowed funds to be used for immediate recruitment of faculty.

Feinstein lauded Kelly for his role in arranging for USC to benefit from Nohl’s generosity.

“There’s no way I can ever be able to thank Larry for directing this very generous gift from Jane Anne Nohl to the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center,” he said. “This gift gives us a great opportunity to catapult our hematology division into national and international prominence by providing the resources for attracting new outstanding faculty and for the education and training of new clinical scientists. The result of all of this will be cutting-edge research, excellent teaching and superb patient care.”

Referring to Feinstein, Keck School Dean Carmen Puliafito said, “One of the elements of greatness in a medical school is clinical excellence—at the heart of everything is still the clinician, the compassionate clinician.”

Puliafito called the gift transformational “because it will truly change the work that we do here by enhancing it, strengthening it, focusing it in new and meaningful ways as we continue our conquest of cancer.”

USC’s 50-year-old division of hematology is responsible for multiple clinical services at the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and USC University Hospital. USC faculty provide day-to-day care of severely ill patients with hematologic malignancies. The division is also responsible for consultation clinics as well as the bone marrow/progenitor cell transplantation service at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital.

“This gift provides us with tremendous opportunities to significantly increase our faculty in hematology,” Feinstein said. “Because of the resources we now have, we can potentially recruit the best people in the country and dramatically increase the breadth and depth of our clinical research.”

In addition to supporting the division of hematology, the gift will establish an endowed research fund to be directed by Leslie Weiner, professor of neurology at the Keck School, for research of multiple sclerosis.

Jane Anne Nohl and her husband Louis were instrumental in land purchases in Southern California, including the Nohl Ranch near Irvine, where a freeway exit now helps mark their legacy.

After her husband passed away, Mrs. Nohl continued her philanthropy by donating to many charities around the region. Prior to her passing away this past July, Nohl made the arrangements for the $60 million gift with the help of Kelly.

“The thing about Jane was that she was very caring,” said Kelly. “The first thing she’d say is, ‘How is your family?’ She’s probably the most humorous person I’ve ever met.”

Since 1985, Kelly has run Lawrence Kelly & Associates, a money management firm based in Pasadena, Calif. A 1964 business school graduate of USC, he also spent many years in New York, where he was chair of Webster Management.

“The big thing that Jane wanted and I certainly wanted was obviously to make the Cancer Center one of the most renowned centers in the country,” said Kelly. “I think by having this endowment, we will really give them the ability to hire the talent. We need a lot more Dr. Feinsteins around.”