Who are Ben and Catherine Ivy?

My husband Ben and I shared the value that it is important to give back to the community.  For several years, we often discussed our philanthropic interest in health care and education.  Unfortunately, the focus of our newly formed foundation became painfully clear when Ben was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in August 2005 and passed away four months later in November 2005.

During the last four months of Ben’s life, his quality of life was severely compromised.  In addition to his devastating diagnosis, Ben’s suffering made a difficult situation overwhelmingly painful.  My goal is to prevent others from having to go through what we endured and to decrease the suffering of patients with brain tumors.

Ben loved the art of deal-making and one of his greatest strengths was turning challenges into opportunities.  He was not afraid of risk, which is why we will not only fund science of merit but “riskier” science.  Ben and I hoped we could use the business principles and strategies learned in our careers to contribute to philanthropy.  It has become clear to me how much our financial planning backgrounds can be applied to the Foundation and the way we fund research.

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to this cause and have met so many wonderful people who are part of the brain tumor community.

– Catherine Ivy


Brain Tumor FAQ

Gliomas (also known as primary brain tumors), are a type of brain tumor that grow from cells in the brain instead of starting in another area such as the lung and traveling, or metastasizing, to the brain. Gliomas come in many types and may be low-grade (slowly growing) or high-grade (rapidly growing). High-grade gliomas are the most common type of primary brain tumors.

How do brain tumors develop?

Soon after birth, the human brain finishes growing. Most brain cells then enter a resting state and rarely divide again. An exception is when a brain tumor develops. The genes that control cell growth become abnormal and then the abnormal brain cells begin to multiply without control.

Are brain tumors hereditary?

The answer, for almost all patients, is no. While there are some conditions that may lead to brain tumors in families, they are very rare. The conditions that carry a higher
inherited risk of gliomas include neurofibromatosis type I, Turcot’s syndrome, and the Li-Fraumeni syndrome.

How are gliomas diagnosed?

Once a brain tumor is seen on a CT or MRI scan, a neurosurgeon takes a sample of the tumor to be examined under a microscope by a neuropathologist. After examining the
sample, the neuropathologist will give the tumor a name and grade. Knowing the name and grade of the tumor helps the physician decide which treatment is best.

Internships in Neurology at TGen

AZ Red Book


The Arizona-based Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation will fund a $45,000 pilot internship program this summer and fall at the Translational Genomics Research Foundation (TGen).

The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation and TGen developed the Ivy Neurological Sciences Internship Program to inspire high-school and undergraduate college students to pursue careers in bioscience, particularly in the areas of brain tumor research and neuroscience.

The program will provide hands-on biomedical research under the mentorship of TGen investigators.

“Mentor-intern relationships play a pivotal role in developing and driving a student’s career choice,” said Catherine Ivy, president of the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation. “It is my hope that the Ivy Neurological Sciences Internship Program will inspire additional research into the neurosciences and that these students will become the next generation of leaders in the field.”

TGen will select five students for the pilot program, which starts in June. Three high-school students will participate in a 10-week summer program, and two undergraduate students will be selected for extended 20-week internships that will continue into the fall, enabling a more in-depth research experience.

TGen understands that the development of a local, knowledge-based workforce depends on educating and training talented students today.

“To fully achieve our mission, we must make a significant investment in our area schools and local communities,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen president. “The Ivy Program provides the access to help educate students on the impact genomics has on their lives in terms of a career in the biomedical sciences.”

By design, the program immerses interns in the translational process, which marries the discovery process with clinical care to more rapidly transform research into new treatments for patients.

“Students in the program gain a greater understanding of the connection between laboratory research results and their application toward patient care. In doing so, they view firsthand the continuum from the lab bench to the patient bedside and clinical implementation,” said Dr. Candice Nulsen, director of TGen’s Office of Science Education and Outreach.

Additional components of the internship program include medical rounds, drug development, lectures and opportunities for students to present their scientific findings. For more information, contact Dr. Candice Nulsen, Ph.D., at cnulsen@tgen.org or 602-343-8466.

Brain Cancer Foundation Moves to Scottsdale

Group Funds Research to Extend Patient Lives

by Ken Alltucker – May. 1, 2012 05:23 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com

A privately funded foundation dedicated to brain-cancer research has relocated from Palo Alto, Calif., to Scottsdale.

The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation already has funded more than $50 million in brain-cancer research in the United States and Canada. With a new office on Scottsdale Road near Lincoln Drive, the foundation will continue its mission of underwriting research that seeks to extend the lives of people with brain cancer.

Founder and board President Catherine Ivy, a Phoenix native, cited Arizona’s friendly business climate as a key factor in the move. Ivy wants to make sure the foundation spends as little as possible on staffing and overhead so it can maximize funding of brain-cancer research.

Ivy also cited scientific work at Barrow Neurological Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) as examples of the type of projects the foundation seeks to fund.

“The bottom line is what gets to patients the quickest,” said Ivy, who worked as a financial planner for more than two decades. “It is about the money going to research.”

The foundation’s largest Arizona award was $5 million to TGen and the Ivy early-phase clinical-trials consortium, which includes the University of California-San Francisco, University of California-Los Angeles and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The plan is to conduct an early-stage randomized clinical trial for people with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer. Although the clinical trial has not started, researchers expect the study could begin within six months.

The foundation also announced Tuesday that it would fund a $45,000 internship program that will match TGen scientists with high-school and undergraduate college students who are interested in studying biomedical and brain-cancer research.

TGen President and Research Director Jeffrey Trent said the relocation of the foundation to Scottsdale is welcome news to local researchers and families battling brain cancer.

“It is absolutely a positive for Arizona and a huge positive for patients,” Trent said.

Ivy launched the foundation in 2005 after her husband, Ben Ivy, was diagnosed with glioblastoma. Ben Ivy, who ran a successful real-estate investment business in California, died four months after his diagnosis.

Ivy said the foundation’s goal is to double the survival rate of people diagnosed with brain cancer within seven years.

Glioblastoma, the type of malignant brain cancer that claimed the life of longtime Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, is an aggressive disease that typically strikes down patients within one year.

The median survival rate for glioblastoma patients improved from seven to nine months from 2001 to 2007, according to research presented last year at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

Ivy said she will work to continue to improve the odds for brain-cancer patients and their families.

“What these patients face and go through is a tremendous inspiration to me,” Ivy said.