How John Wayne Cancer Institute Makes Healing and Health Possible for Millions of Cancer Patients Worldwide


The John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John's Health Center has been shaping a vital future for cancer patients and their families for more than 30 years. In this post from our Shape the Future Blog Series, this internationally recognized leader in basic, translational and clinical cancer research shares how the Institute has changed the way cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated worldwide.

In 1979, John Wayne – one of the world’s most popular movie heroes – was fighting stomach cancer. He was known for playing men who were larger than life, straight shooters who refused to run away from a fight. The real John Wayne never ran away from a fight either. And that’s how he faced cancer – head on and helping others.

John Wayne had an amazing partner in the fight for his life, the late Donald L. Morton, MD. Dr. Morton was a world-renowned pioneer in the development of immunotherapy cancer drugs. Before his death, John Wayne made it clear that he wanted his name to be used to help benefit cancer patients everywhere.  Today, his name lives on through the groundbreaking cancer research and teaching at the Institute. 

To this day the Wayne family honors their father’s legacy with their unwavering support and generosity. They work tirelessly to encourage other generous people, including donors who give through their employer's workplace giving campaign, to join them to make this life saving research possible.

Here are some accomplishments made possible by our generous donors:

  • Developed by Dr. Morton, the sentinel node technique was a revolutionary approach to determine if tumor cells have spread to a patient’s lymph nodes. Originally developed for patients with melanoma, this technique has been successfully adapted for breast, colon, lung and other solid tumor cancers. It has resulted in a dramatic reduction in pain and suffering and eliminates more than $3.5 billion in unnecessary surgical procedures annually.
  • Dr. Morton pioneered today’s cancer immunotherapy drugs and the Institute continues to advance this work to create future cures. Recently the FDA approved two of these amazing immunotherapies that are saving lives today.
  • The John Wayne Cancer Institute houses a unique “national treasure;” one of the world’s largest and best clinically annotated tissue and blood banks. This incredible repository provides opportunities for major breakthroughs in cancer genomics, molecular biomarkers, the discovery of novel cancer pathways, and potential therapeutic targets for chemo and immunotherapies.
  • The John Wayne Cancer Institute’s Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program has graduated more than 150 surgical oncologists; most have become professors, deans, or chairs at major academic institutions and health centers around the nation.

Follow to learn more about our research programs and specialties; Brain and Pituitary Tumors, the Margie Petersen Breast Center, Endocrine and Bone Disease, Gastrointestinal research and Melanoma.

Your philanthropic support is powerful. When you give to the John Wayne Cancer Institute, you make healing and health possible for millions of cancer patients worldwide. Whether you represent your company, or are an individual employee, you can pledge support through your company's workplace giving program. For more information about how to give to the John Wayne Cancer Institute through your workplace giving program visit

Thank you for your compassionate and generous gift.

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Our thanks to John Wayne Cancer Institute for sharing their mission and impact with us.  You can learn more about their work by visiting their website here. To support their efforts, please donate to John Wayne Cancer Institute through your company's workplace giving program

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