Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute said Thursday it’s received a gift of $7.8 million from the Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation to fund multiple myeloma research.

The two-year project will support fast-tracked research projects at Winship in multiple myeloma, a blood cancer caused by malignant plasma cells that accumulate in the bone marrow.

Rodger Riney founded Scottrade Financial Services, which was acquired in 2017 by TD Ameritrade in a $4 billion deal. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015.

Riney has not been treated at Winship but the money comes to Winship based on the strength of its myeloma team of researchers and physicians, Emory said.

Riney and his wife Paula have made substantial gifts to the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to accelerate research into multiple myeloma and improve outcomes for patients, Emory said.

Every year, Winship sees more than 2,000 patients with multiple myeloma. The survival rate for myeloma has improved dramatically over the past 20 years, yet almost all patients eventually relapse, requiring repeat or new treatments, Emory said.

“Paula and I believe the best opportunity to cure multiple myeloma is to fund important research and researchers at multiple institutions, like Dr. Sagar Lonial at Winship. In addition, we have a commitment to generate cross-institutional research with the expectation that the collaborations will accelerate our collective goal of improving outcomes for patients with multiple myeloma,” Rodger Riney said in a statement. “Dr. Lonial and Winship have the same goal and importantly, that spirit of collaboration.”

Multiple myeloma is not considered curable, but outcomes for myeloma patients over the past decade have improved significantly, offering hope for patients at all stages of their treatment, Emory said. New drugs and treatment approaches have converted a disease with limited long term survival 20 years ago, to one that has more of a chronic illness model for many patients. Thanks to the robust myeloma team of researchers and physicians developed with Lonial’s leadership, Winship has played a key role in the development, testing, and approval of all of these new treatments, including several recently approved immunotherapy drugs.

The Riney Family Multiple Myeloma Research Program Fund will engage faculty from all four Winship research programs: cancer immunology, cancer prevention and control, cell and molecular biology, and discovery and developmental therapeutics, Emory said.

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