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Celebrity Philanthropy News 2  3
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Black Tie International:
USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center Gala
Photos by:   Alex Berliner/ABImages
Carmen A Puliafito, MD, (Dean, Keck School of Medicine of USC), Visionary Award honorees David and Dana Dornsife, C.L. Max Nikias (President, USC), Stephen Gruber (Director, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center)

Carmen A Puliafito, MD, (Dean, Keck School of Medicine of USC), Visionary Award honorees David and Dana Dornsife, C.L. Max Nikias (President, USC), Stephen Gruber (Director, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center)





Headliner Don Henley Performed; Dana Carvey Emceed


 Research Innovation Award honoree Dr. Parkash Gill and Joe Piscopo

 Research Innovation Award honoree Dr. Parkash Gill and Joe Piscopo

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan

Fran Drescher

Fran Drescher

David Spade and Dana Carvey

David Spade and Dana Carvey

LOS ANGELES – USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s original comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1972, raised more than $2 million at its 2015 star-studded black tie gala fundraiser held October 10th at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills. The event honored philanthropists Dana and David Dornsife with the Visionary Award and physician-scientist Parkash Gill, M.D. who was recognized with the Research Innovation Award for his ground-breaking cancer research as one of USC’s elite team of scientific researchers.  Funds raised support the innovative cancer research at the 43-year-old USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center that offers approximately 250 clinical cancer trials each year.

The honorary event hosts included C.L. Max Nikias, president of the University of Southern California; Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC; and Stephen B. Gruber, M.D., PhD., M.P.H., director, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Raymond A. and Shauna Mirra of RAM Capital were the evening’s presenting sponsor and honorary chairs.

Dean Puliafito welcomed the more than 500 guests before introducing the evening’s emcee, Emmy Award-winning actor, comedian and “Saturday Night Live” alum Dana Carvey. Dr. Gruber then took the  stage to thank the evening’s supporters, that included Ray and Shauna Mirra, presenting sponsors and honors chairs, and Tom and Holly Gores of Platinum Equity, the platinum sponsor for the event.              Dr. Gruber also spoke of the exceptional research being done by the more than 200 world-class faculty scientists at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Norris Visionary Award to Dana and David Dornsife. The Dornsifes, recognized as international philanthropic leaders, were honored for their advocacy and funding for cancer research and their help with patient treatment, especially cancer patients who have a clinical trial as their only option for treatment.

Dana Dornsife is president and founder of Lazarex Cancer Foundation, whose mission is to help end-stage cancer patients navigate their clinical trial options and to provide financial support. She founded the organization after losing a brother at age 48 to pancreatic cancer. The Lazarex Cancer Foundation is dedicating to bringing scientific and medical institutions together with government to fund research and find faster cures and treatments for cancer.  David serves as vice president of the Hedco Foundation, whose mission is health and education improvement. 

Both David and Dana Dornsife are alumni of USC. David is a graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business and Dana, a member of the USC Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Their longtime transformative support of the mission of USC includes being named donors of the USC David and Dana Dornsife College of Letters Arts and Sciences where David serves as chairman of the board and Dana is a board member of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute at the Dornsife College.

“Our honorees, David and Dana Dornsife, are not only accomplished figures in their respective professional fields, but each is personally dedicated to supporting the efforts to conquer cancer and provide compassionate care to patients,” said Stephen Gruber, Director, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.  “We are honored to celebrate the Dornsifes for their continued generosity to USC and to their commitment to our mission.”

Honorary Chair Raymond Mirra joined Gruber on stage to present the Research Innovation Award to Parkash Gill, M.D., professor of Medicine and Pathology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Dr. Gill’s laboratory at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center has an active translational program to develop cancer therapeutics based on basic or classic bench research. 

“Dr. Gill’s extraordinary research is supporting our mission to make cancer a disease of the past,” said Dr. Gruber. “It is the dedication of Dr. Gill and our entire university-based research team that continue to make USC Norris recognized as one of the top cancer research centers in Los Angeles and the nation.”

Dana Carvey’s comedic monologue led into the introduction of special guest Pierce Brosnan. The actor who played James Bond, among other memorable roles, was on hand to introduce his good friend and multi-Grammy Award winner Don Henley. Currently touring for his new album, Cass County, the founding member of the Eagles and passionate environmental activist, Henley brought the crowd to its feet with performances of classic favorites All She Wants To Do Is Dance, Desperado and Hotel California.


USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Keck Medicine of USC, is designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as one of the eight original comprehensive cancer centers created through the National Cancer Act of 1971 and remains one of only 41 such centers in the entire country. At the forefront of cancer research and treatment, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center serves as a major source of new knowledge on the nature of cancer and on the most effective approaches to preventing, diagnosing and treating the disease in its many forms.  USC Norris conducts translational research that moves from the laboratory to the patient bedside, providing advance care that saves lives. 


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Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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