Donation helps fund testicular cancer research at USC
When John Willis discovered that his 25-year-old son had testicular cancer, he was understandably devastated.
“When something like this happens, it’s enormous, and it’s difficult to try to process it all,” he said.
Johnny Willis knew he had a problem, but at first a local doctor and urologist did not recognize the condition. It was the young man’s determination that led the family to Sia Daneshmand, associate professor of urology (clinical scholar) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
“I’m incredibly proud of Johnny and very thankful we met Dr. Daneshmand,” Willis said.
“As we went through this process, it quickly became very apparent that Dr. Daneshmand is dedicated to what he does,” Willis said. “He’s so passionate and caring and really helped Johnny believe he would get through this. We thought, ‘What can we do to help in return?’ ”
That question led Willis, co-founder of the technology company Interloc Solutions, to make a generous donation to help Daneshmand and his team at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center fully develop a comprehensive database of clinical and tissue sample data from testicular cancer patients.
Along with his team, Daneshmand, who is also director of urologic oncology at the USC Institute of Urology and a renowned testis cancer expert, have developed a comprehensive institutional review board-approved database that captures clinical data for analysis. USC also houses one of the largest tissue banks for testis tumors led by Sue Martin, director of the Translational Pathology Core Facility of the Norris cancer center. The challenge is to merge the two to better understand outcomes.
“We work collaboratively with departments of radiology, pathology, molecular epidemiology and medical oncology,” Daneshmand explained. “This helps us better understand modes of presentation, optimal treatment and follow-up regimens, and delineate specific issues related to long-term survivors of testicular cancer, including fertility and hormonal factors.
“We have a team dedicated to testis cancer research, and at any one time we have at least half a dozen ongoing projects, and funding from extramural sources is extremely limited,” he added. “Philanthropy like the Willis/Interloc donation helps us fund research fellows whose help is invaluable in our mission.”