Howard P. Milstein, a banker and philanthropist who serves as chairman of the largest privately held bank in the U.S., has, with his family, donated $5.5 million to The Rockefeller University to create the Milstein Medical Research Program. The initial research efforts will be in the area of skin cancer and will be led by James G. Krueger, D. Martin Carter Professor and head of the Laboratory for Investigative Dermatology at Rockefeller.
The new program will focus on improving understanding of the biology and progression of human melanoma, with an emphasis on developing diagnostic techniques that will enable clinicians to identify appropriate treatments.
“Howard Milstein’s generous gift will enable Rockefeller University physician-scientists to better understand the basic biology of melanoma in people, a crucial step in the fight against this devastating disease,” says Rockefeller University President Paul Nurse. “We are enormously grateful to Mr. Milstein for helping the university launch a major new initiative in melanoma aimed at finding more-effective treatments.”
A central aim of the Milstein Medical Research Program will be to create a new medical practice of skin oncology, in which dermatologists will take a more central role in the long-term management of patients with melanoma and serve as the primary caregivers, creating a new model for actual practices. In addition to administering standard or routine therapies for advanced disease, Krueger envisions dermatologists performing clinical studies of new therapeutics in melanoma patients.
“Melanoma is perhaps the most important disease treated by dermatologists, especially as early recognition and surgical excision may be curative,” says Krueger. “It is our intention to get a much deeper understanding of disease pathogenesis, including disease genomics, and to use this information in the very near future to begin to engineer new therapies for melanoma.”
Howard Milstein is chairman of New York Private Bank and Trust, the largest privately held bank in the country, as well as co-chairman, president and CEO of Emigrant Savings Bank. He is also managing partner of Milstein Properties, an investment builder active in both residential and commercial development; founding chairman of the merchant bank FriedbergMilstein; and chairman of MB Real Estate, a commercial leasing and management company. Milstein is a member of the board of overseers of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, chairman of the American Skin Association, chairman of the New York Blood Center, a director of the United Hospital Fund, and a member of the National Board of the Smithsonian Institution. Howard represents the third generation of the Milstein family, who have been supporters of medical research since the 1960s.