Late Fall 2022
By Cyrena Musset
Debbie Johnston is dedicated to supporting causes that are close to her heart, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s ovarian cancer research is one such cause. After the passing of a cherished friend in 2010, Debbie joined Team Diane for the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai in support of ovarian cancer research. While her gifts started off small, they have created a ripple effect over the years and grown into substantial funding for cancer research and care.
At Dana-Farber, Debbie’s philanthropic passion lies with clinical and pre-clinical trials and she feels that private funding is a key component to unlocking the viability of cancer research. Her latest gift of $500,000 to the previously established Johnston Family Ovarian Cancer Research Fund highlights this. Her gift provides critical funding for Ursula Matulonis, MD, chief of the division of Gynecologic Oncology and the Brock-Wilson Family Chair at Dana-Farber, who plans to conduct a clinical trial testing a novel, natural killer “NK” cell therapy—a form of immunotherapy—in ovarian cancer to pave the way for better patient care and outcomes.
“Debbie’s continued generosity in the pursuit of groundbreaking ovarian cancer research is vital to advancing our work,” Matulonis said. “Her interest and passion for discovery of the next cutting-edge ovarian cancer therapy is driving critical research forward. I am truly very grateful for her loyal generosity.”
For years, Debbie has served on the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers Visiting Committee—now known as the Presidential Symposium—as an ambassador for Dana-Farber and continues to receive research updates from Matulonis and her team. Debbie hopes for a day when cancer no longer wreaks havoc on the lives of friends and family.
“Ursula and her team don’t shy away from a tough fight,” Debbie said. “Ovarian cancer is difficult to treat, but I’m an optimist. We’ve made so much progress in treating people with cancer, and I hope we will one day live in a world where it no longer exists altogether. Small acts of generosity today can make a big difference tomorrow.”