Friday, April 29, 2011

Red Cross Sends Help After Deadly Tornadoes Blast Through the South

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross is helping thousands of people after Wednesday's deadly tornadoes destroyed neighborhoods throughout the southern region of the country.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with those who lost loved ones or have suffered through these deadly storms," said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. "Red Cross disaster teams are working around the clock to help the thousands of people whose lives are turned upside down. More Red Cross assistance is on the way."

"Our top priority right now is to provide food and shelter to the thousands of people throughout the South and Midwest affected by these storms," Shimanski said, adding that the Red Cross is also distributing relief supplies and providing emotional support and basic health services to disaster survivors.

Hardest hit was Alabama, where Governor Robert Bentley has activated National Guard troops to help in the devastated areas. The Red Cross is sending disaster workers, materials, blood products and equipment into the state. Nearly 40 emergency response vehicles are on the way, along with 25,000 ready-to-eat meals. Red Cross Blood Services is moving hundreds of blood products into the area, and Red Cross nurses and mental health workers are being deployed to help people cope with the aftermath of this disaster.

More than 1,600 people sought refuge in 65 Red Cross shelters Wednesday night as the storms forced them from their homes. Red Cross shelters are open in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina and Texas.

"Tornadoes and floods have devastated communities and uprooted families across many states, and the Red Cross is working hand-in-hand with our federal and community partners to get assistance to people in need and help them recover," Shimanski said.

More than half of the country has been affected by this continuous band of damaging weather, disrupting people's lives from North Dakota to the East Coast. In the last several weeks, Red Cross disaster workers have provided thousands of overnight stays in shelters, distributed thousands of clean-up and comfort kits and served hundreds of thousands of meals and snacks.

The Red Cross is able to respond quickly when emergencies happen with the help of corporations who are members of the organization's Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). ADGP members pledge donations on an ongoing basis to allow the Red Cross to pre-position supplies and be ready to take immediate action when disasters occur.

ADGP members include Walmart, UPS, UnitedHealthcare, The TJX Companies, Inc., Target, State Street Foundation, State Farm, Southwest Airlines, Ryder Charitable Foundation, Northrup Grumman, Nationwide Insurance Foundation, Morgan Stanley, Merck, Lowe's Companies, Inc., Kraft Foods, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, John Deere Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, GE Foundation, FedEx Corporation, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Darden Restaurants, Inc, ConAgra Foods, Cisco Foundation, Aon, Altria and 3M.

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster, both here in the United States and around the world. Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. To make a donation, visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.


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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Krispy Kreme and the Law Enforcement Torch Run® Are Teaming Up to Raise Funds and Awareness For Special Olympics

Officers will take to the roofs of Krispy Kreme Doughnut shops throughout Georgia from 6 a.m. on Friday, April 29 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 1

27, 2011 /PRNewswire-/ -- Krispy Kreme is once again teaming up with Georgia police officers to "raise dough" for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Georgia during the first weekend in May. Officers will take to the roofs for Georgia's ninth annual "Cops on Doughnut Shops" weekend from 6 a.m. on Friday, April 29 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, where they will collect donations from customers as they eat, sleep and play on the rooftops of ten Georgia Krispy Kreme stores. Due to the success of the event in years past, Cops on Doughnut Shops is being held at participating Krispy Kreme stores across the country, raising money for local Special Olympics programs.

Georgia's 2010 Cops on Doughnut Shops event raised an amazing $97,000 for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Georgia. In addition to accepting donations from Krispy Kreme customers, the officers will also make calls to local individuals and business leaders asking for pledges, and local celebrities and community leaders are being asked to lend their support up on the roofs throughout the weekend.

Following are the participating Georgia Krispy Kreme stores for Cops on Doughnut Shops 2011:

Albany – 400 N. Slappey Blvd.

Athens – 3703 Atlanta Highway

Atlanta – 295 Ponce de Leon Avenue

Buford – 3387 Buford Drive

Commerce – 40103 Highway 441 South

Duluth – 1550 Pleasant Hill Road

Lilburn – 4129 Highway 78

Marietta – 299 Cobb Parkway, South

Riverdale – 6689 Highway #9

Roswell – 791 Atlanta Street

"Cops and doughnut shops just naturally go together in people's minds," says Allison Kaczenski, Special Olympics Georgia. "We decided to have some fun with it and help a worthy cause. What better way to create awareness and raise money for the Special Olympics than to put police officers on the roofs of Krispy Kreme stores?"

"Supporting local communities and programs that touch and enhance the lives of young people has been part of our Company's history for more than 70 years," said Brian K. Little, Director of Corporate Communication for Krispy Kreme. "We are very proud to be part of these unique events again in 2011."

Customers who donate $5 or more to the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics will receive not only the sincere thanks of participating officers, but could also receive treats from Krispy Kreme ranging from a free doughnut to a free dozen Original Glazed doughnuts every month for a year. Corporations, organizations or individuals donating $1,000 or more will receive a free Krispy Kreme doughnut party for their employees.

The mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is to raise funds for and awareness of the Special Olympics movement worldwide. Law enforcement officers from the 50 United States, 10 Canadian provinces and territories, and 5 countries carry the Flame of Hope in honor of the Special Olympics athletes in their area and around the world. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest grass-roots fund-raiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics in the world. Last year, this international program raised over $34 million to support Special Olympics programs. More than 85,000 law enforcement officers from thousands of agencies have carried the Flame of Hope and have raised more than $200 million since the Torch Run's inception in 1981.


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Friday, April 22, 2011

Converse Unveils Basketball Courts at Atlanta's Historic Piedmont Park

/PRNewswire/ -- Today (April 21), CONVERSE Inc., unveils two new basketball courts at Piedmont Park in midtown Atlanta, Georgia, along with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and NBA legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving. The Converse basketball court donation, consisting of one full court and one half court, is part of Converse's commitment to fostering community involvement through basketball in the city of Atlanta.

Marked with the iconic Converse Star Chevron logo, the basketball courts will provide youth with the opportunity to play basketball in an area that has not had courts before. Before the court presentation, Converse will hold its Open Gym session with Atlanta youth. Converse Open Gym, founded in 2007, provides an opportunity for kids to play basketball in a free, safe and unrestricted environment in major metropolitan markets including Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and Boston. Over 50,000 kids have been touched by this program nationally, 17,000 of which come from the city of Atlanta.

"Converse is thrilled to celebrate basketball and the donation of these courts with Piedmont Park Conservancy, as they continue to implement their Master Plan to enhance the park for future generations," said Geoff Cottrill, Chief Marketing Officer of Converse. "We have enjoyed working with the City of Atlanta over the past few years to help inspire children through the game of basketball, and are happy that basketball is now a part of this beautiful, historic park."

Since 2008, Converse has led and sponsored an array of community-based programs in the Metro-Atlanta area including, several Converse Open Gyms, and title sponsorship of The Health Education & Communication Center of Atlanta's (HECCA) HOOPATLANTA Bounce Back program. The Bounce Back program is a multi-tiered community program where Converse has donated over 5,000 basketballs to Atlanta's Parks and Recreation Department, Atlanta Public Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools and Dekalb County Schools and supports scholarship programs in the Dekalb County School System and Gwinnett County Public School System.

"Physical activity and sports participation help foster the social skills that our youth need, so we are excited about the new basketball courts at Piedmont Park and the fitness pilot programs Converse will begin to lead soon at our Centers of Hope," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. "Converse was one of the first corporate supporters of the Centers of Hope campaign, and their contribution is one of the reasons why we were able to secure a portion of the funds needed to reopen our recreation centers."

This court donation is a result of a partnership with Piedmont Park Conservancy, The City of Atlanta's Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, and The Health Education & Communication Center of Atlanta (HECCA).

In addition to the Piedmont Park basketball courts' unveiling, Converse is the title sponsor of the HOOPATLANTA Classic, Georgia's largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The tournament takes place April 23rd at the Georgia World Congress Center and fuses physical activity, the best in creative basketball match-ups and entertainment to create a unique experience for all.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Home Depot Foundation Pledges $30 Million to Veterans Housing Issues

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, The Home Depot® Foundation announced a pledge of $30 million over three years to address veterans' housing issues. The Foundation's financial commitment will be amplified by associates from The Home Depot, who will volunteer their time and home improvement know-how skills to projects across the country.

"Our nation's veterans have made great sacrifices for our country, yet the statistics show that many of them face severe housing needs due to disability, lack of affordable housing and unemployment," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO, The Home Depot. "Their plight is very personal to all Home Depot associates because we have more than 35,000 veterans who work for us and an estimated 1,500 associates serving on active duty at any given time."

The Foundation's initiative will kick off immediately by providing a total of $3.1 million to Fisher House Foundation, The Mission Continues and Volunteers of America to repair and rehabilitate facilities and homes serving veterans of all ages. In addition to funding, each of these partnerships will be supported by Team Depot, the Company's associate-led volunteer force.

Fisher House Foundation provides comfort houses for the families of veteran and active duty military patients receiving medical care at major military and Veterans Affairs medical centers. The Home Depot Foundation is providing a one-year $500,000 grant to repair and enhance many of the organization's 54 existing houses. Where possible, Team Depot volunteers will complete the work, ranging from making bathrooms handicapped accessible, to painting and landscaping.

"Our partnership with The Home Depot Foundation will allow Fisher Houses across the country to partner with skilled volunteers from local Home Depot stores to refresh and enhance our homes," said Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher House Foundation. "Since we began serving our nation's military families and wounded warriors, over 142,000 families have been guests in our homes. We are grateful to The Home Depot Foundation for their generous support."

Volunteers of America is one of the largest nonprofit providers of affordable housing in the U.S., with a focus specifically on veterans, low-income families with children, the disabled and senior citizens. The Home Depot Foundation is providing a three-year $1.8 million grant to repair and rehab properties where veterans and their families live. First-year projects include the rehabilitation of residential facilities in Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami, serving approximately 275 disabled and/or homeless veterans and their families at any given time. Each project will include numerous opportunities for Team Depot volunteers to get involved as well.

"Our organization has served the needs of veterans for more than 60 years," said Volunteers of America National President Mike King. "We feel a deep responsibility to serve those who have served our country, and understand that safe, decent housing is the foundation for a successful life. Our partnership with The Home Depot Foundation allows us to address both the quality and the quantity of our veterans housing. It's the factor that turns affordable housing into homes, and makes the difference between simply keeping people alive and giving them a life."

The Mission Continues provides opportunities for returning veterans to serve as citizen leaders by leading volunteer projects in their communities or by completing fellowships with nonprofit organizations. Along with a $1.05 million grant from The Home Depot Foundation, Team Depot will work with volunteers from The Mission Continues to complete more than 100 community projects during 2011. In addition, a disabled veteran will be placed at The Home Depot Foundation for a six-month fellowship to assist with project management for all volunteer projects.

"Our veterans are an asset. We appreciate that The Home Depot realizes the value that these dedicated men and women bring to our country, even after their time in uniform," said Eric Greitens, CEO of The Mission Continues. "We are excited to bring Mission Continues volunteers and Team Depot members together in service to build stronger communities."

The Foundation will continue to evaluate and add new partnerships to address veterans' housing issues. For more information about The Home Depot Foundation's veterans' initiative, please visit

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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association … 25 Years of Giving Hope and Making Miracles

Eighteen years ago, Thomas and Jodi Sornsin of Tempe, Arizona, were desperate for a miracle. Ben, their two-year-old toddler, needed a liver transplant to survive. Adding to the pain and stress of a critically ill child was the fact that Ben’s illness, diagnosis and transplant came as a complete surprise.

Many transplant families have time to prepare, but the Sornsins did not. On New Year’s Eve 1992, Ben came down with a cold. Two weeks later he was fighting for his life. What happened? Ben was diagnosed with complete liver failure due to a virus of unknown origin. Ben went from being a healthy toddler to a sick child in a hepatic coma in a matter of ten days.

According to Jodi, “Ben was in a coma in the ICU and only hours away from death. We received the news that a liver had been found and he would be transplanted the next morning … a true miracle.”

While Thomas and Jodi were living at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles to care for Ben, they were confronted with the financial reality of Ben’s transplant. Their health insurance was going to cover only about $100,000 of the transplant bill. Jodi remembers being called to the hospital’s finance office repeatedly and asked how they were going to pay the medical bill. Frankly, neither Thomas nor Jodi knew how that was going to happen.

They needed help, and they needed it quickly.

Meanwhile, friends and family members started asking how they could help this young family, and one friend introduced the Sornsin’s to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA).

“I made the call to COTA as soon as we heard about this amazing organization and the person on the other end of the phone told me not to worry about the money -- COTA would help us. Once COTA was on board, and our team of volunteers started a fundraising effort, we were never called to the hospital’s finance office again,” said Jodi.

Their second miracle? According to Jodi it was being able to concentrate on their baby’s recovery and not worry about the mounting bills.

A team of volunteers made up of family members, friends and co-workers from Hunter Contracting began working with COTA’s team of professionals almost immediately to launch a fundraising effort with a goal of raising $200,000. According to Jodi, “It was truly amazing how people came forward to help because they saw Ben’s photo on a collection canister or on the television. One man, previously a stranger to our family, saw Ben’s photo, got involved and spearheaded efforts that raised $45,000.”

“Giving Hope … Making Miracles is more than a slogan for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association -- it is a guiding vision,” said Rick Lofgren, President of COTA. “The Sornsin’s story is, unfortunately, all too common… a child who needs a transplant combined with financial issues jeopardizing that child’s life and the family’s future. The miracle is the community that works together to give a family hope.”

Lofgren continued, “COTA was founded in 1986 when a baby boy from Bloomington, Indiana, needed a liver transplant. The community rallied and raised more than $100,000. Even though the child died before a liver became available, their efforts were not in vain. Their efforts started COTA and COTA has since helped give hundreds of children like Ben a second chance at life.”

When COTA celebrates its 25th anniversary in April, Ben will be 20-years-old. He is more than six feet tall. He is a college sophomore honor student working towards a degree in criminal justice. He is a swimmer who swam competitively in high school and at the National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games. And Ben is healthy.

Ben Sornsin is a miracle -- thanks to the selfless gift of a liver donation. And thanks to the hundreds of Arizona volunteers who worked with COTA to make sure a sick little boy had the chance to become a healthy and happy adult.

“When your child is dying and you need a miracle … COTA is there for you. All those years ago our hope was that we would one day have a normal life. Ben has had a few health-related ups and downs over these nearly two decades post-transplant, but for the most part we are a normal, and very thankful, family.”

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association is a national charity that provides fundraising assistance to transplant families. Since 1986, COTA’s priority is to assure that no child or young adult is denied a transplant or excluded from a transplant waiting list due to lack of funds. 100% of all funds raised in honor of transplant patients are used for transplant-related expenses.

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association’s 25th Anniversary Highlights

· The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) was founded in 1986 following a successful fundraising effort in Bloomington, Indiana. That initial fundraising placed a local toddler on the national liver transplant waiting list.

· Not long after Indiana volunteers raised funds for his liver transplant, they realized other families needed similar help. That core group of committed volunteers founded the Children’s Organ Transplant Association 25 years ago.

· Over the past 25 years, more than 1,600 families have come to COTA with overwhelming financial needs. Every transplant family has received no-cost assistance.

· The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) began working with young adults with single cell genetic disorders requiring a transplant in 1992. Since then, more than 300 young adults have received COTA assistance.

· No charge for services -- a hallmark in 1986 that is still a firm commitment made by the Children’s Organ Transplant Association to every COTA family.

· Open access to services was important to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association in 1986, and it is still important today. Other than legal residence, age and status as a transplant patient, COTA has no other qualifying criteria.

· The Children’s Organ Transplant Association continues to work with families who came to the organization since 1986. After a transplant patient begins work with COTA, they never get ‘too old’ for COTA services.

· The Children’s Organ Transplant Association has been a partner with transplant centers across the country for a quarter century. Together, COTA and transplant professionals are giving hope to transplant families.

· Over the past 25 years, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association has raised more than $60 million. More than 150,000 people have donated time and resources to COTA to help transplant families. COTA’s commitment to transplant families has not wavered.

If you would like to learn more about COTA, please visit

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fayette County: Grant Application Available for Noel November 2011

Funds Plans are underway for the 17th annual Noel November, A Celebration of Trees and a Tradition of Giving Back to our Community to be held on Saturday, November 12th. If your Fayette County non-profit 501(c)3 organization would like to be considered as one of the recipients for Noel November 2011, NOW is the time to apply.

The Fayette County Board of REALTORS just finalized its new grant application and welcomes any qualifying Fayette County organization to submit their request in writing. The process of choosing a charity each year is a tough task, especially when there are so many deserving organizations. The grant application provides a fair and equitable opportunity to compare the structure for dissemination of funds for each organization. The 4-page grant application is available online at or at

Applications must be completed in full and received by Friday, April 22nd in order to qualify for consideration.

In the past, net proceeds from the holiday auction have benefited numerous Fayette county charities and organizations, to include: The Fayette Youth Protection Home, Promise Place, the Joseph Sams School, Fayette Senior Services, Embracing Military Families, and Breast Cancer Survivors Network.

For more information, please contact Vickie Butler, Co-Chair at 404.402.4322, Stephan Curcio, Co-Chair at 678.480.9290, or the Fayette County Board of REALTORS at 770.461.2401.

The Fayette County Board of REALTORS®, is a voluntary professional association of approximately 500 licensed real estate brokers and salespersons engaged in all aspects of the real estate business throughout the county and surrounding areas. FCBR is the local advocate for the real estate industry in Fayette County, committed to protecting private property rights and free enterprise, maintaining ethical and professional standards, and enhancing the public’s awareness and confidence in REALTORS.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Aflac Commits $1.06 Million for Cancer Researcher Scholarships

/PRNewswire/ -- Aflac, the company that helps employers enhance benefits offerings to employees, today announced it will donate a total of $1,060,000 to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to help defray the costs facing cancer researchers. The three-year scholarship awards focus on career development, scholar-in-training; a special program for high school students, and a task force on pediatric oncology. The company is announcing the scholarships this evening at the AACR-Aflac Incorporated Scholar Awards Reception in Orlando, Florida. A total of 43 researchers will receive scholarship funds from an initial installment of $265,000.

"Finding a cure for cancer has been our primary philanthropic cause for more than 15 years," Aflac Foundation President Kathelen Amos said. "Finding a cure begins with making sure our up-and-coming researchers have the tools they need to make a difference. We are honored to support the AACR any way we can."

Since 1997, Aflac and the American Association for Cancer Research have been partners in the fight against cancer. The collaborative efforts focus primarily on better understanding of cancer science, especially as it relates to childhood cancers. Aflac has provided scholarships for more than 600 young researchers since the inception of its partnership with AACR, including Dr. Charles Mullighan from St. Jude's Children's Hospital (see bio below).

"The Aflac award has provided crucial support in the initial stages of my career as an independent investigator," Dr. Mullighan said. "The award allowed me to pursue high risk studies examining the genetics of Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and the development of novel mouse models of ALL. These are clinically relevant studies as they have defined new genetic changes in this disease and helped elucidate their contribution to leukemogenesis."

In addition to the AACR Scholarships, since 1995, Aflac has raised and donated more than $62 million for the treatment and research of childhood cancer.

Facts about pediatric cancers

* Cancer is the leading cause of death in children under age 15. American Cancer Society (ACS 2010)
* Leukemia causes one-third of childhood cancer deaths. (ACS 2010)
* Mortality rates for childhood cancer have declined by 55 percent since 1975. (ACS 2008)
* There are estimated to be at least 270,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the United States.

2011 Scholarship Recipients

* Antonio L. Amelio, PhD - Scripps Institute, Florida
* Guillermo Armaiz Pena, PhD – University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center
* Kofi Asomaning, MD – Harvard School of Public Health
* Gregor M. Balaburski, PhD – Fox Chase Cancer Center
* Daniel W. Bowles, MD - University of Colorado School of Medicine
* J. Chad Brenner, Graduate – University of Michigan
* Sara A. Byron, PhD - Translational Genomics Research Institute
* Qi Cao, PHD – University of Michigan
* Tooba A. Cheema, PhD – Massachusetts General Hospital
* Ru Chen, PHD - UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
* Brooke C. Christensen, PhD – Brown University
* Leonie H.A.M de Wilt, MSc – Virginia University Medical Center
* Jan B. Egan, PhD – Mayo Clinic, Arizona
* Inna V. Fedorenko, Graduate - H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Ctr. & Res. Inst.
* Dinorah Friedmann-Morvinski, PhD - Salk Inst. Cancer Ctr.
* Nicolas N. Garnier, MSc - Lady Davis Institute, JGH
* Hossien A. Hamed, BS - Virginia Commonwealth University
* Linda Holmfeldt, PhD - St Jude Children's Research Hospital
* Shu-hao Hsu, Graduate – Ohio State University
* Jae Hong Im, PhD – University of Oxford
* Yuqi Jing, PhD - University Of Miami, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
* Neil Johnson, PhD – Dana Farber Cancer Institute
* Amjad P. Khan, PhD - University of Michigan Medical School
* Hyung-Gu Kim, PhD - Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
* James L. LaBelle, MD, PhD – Dana Farber Cancer Institute
* Andrea Lai, Graduate – McGill University
* Jill E. Larsen, PhD - UT Southwestern Medical Center
* Melissa K. McConechy. BS - BC Cancer Agency, University of British Columbia
* Andrew S. Moore, MBBS – The Institute of Cancer Research
* Britney L. Moss, Graduate – Washington University School of Medicine
* Min Ni, PhD – Dana Farber Cancer Institute
* Wen-Bin Ou, PhD – Brigham and Women's Hospital
* John R. Prensner, Graduate – University of Michigan
* Jeanine M.L. Roodhart, MD – University Medical Center Utrecht
* Mike R. Russell, PhD – Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
* Takaomi Sanda, MD, PhD – Dana Farber Cancer Institute
* Prasanna K. Santhekadur, PhD – Virginia Commonwealth University
* Punit Saraon, PhD – University of Toronto/Mount Sinai Hospital
* Timothy K. Starr, PhD - Univ. of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Ctr.
* Li Tao, MD - Univ. of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Ctr.
* Jose T. Thaiparambil, PhD - Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
* Chery Whipple, PhD - Dartmouth Norris Cotton Cancer Ctr.
* Kenichi Yoshida, MD - Cancer Genomics Project, The University of Tokyo

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