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The sale of Huntsman Corp., announced Tuesday, will mean increased financial support for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
"This is a great day for cancer patients and their families," said Janet Bingham, president and CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, the sole mission of which is to support the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
While it's too early to tell just how much the institute will receive, Bingham said, "the Huntsmans . . . have always supported cancer research and I believe that will continue to be their top priority."
Jon Huntsman and his wife, Karen, are the founders and principal benefactors of Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.
Dedicated to finding a cure for cancer based on genetic research, the institute has made important strides, including successfully isolating the BRACA-1 and BRACA-2 breast cancer genes.
"It is hard to say right now what this will mean for the Huntsman Cancer Institute," Jon Huntsman said Tuesday, "other than it will provide increased financial underpinnings and support for it to accomplish its mission."
He described the institute's hospital operations as a "break even proposition" with an additional $45 million is spent a year on research. "Hopefully, we'll be able to increase the research capabilities with additional funding," he said.
Bingham said the institute is finishing a new strategic plan that will encompass cancer research, recruitment of top scientists, physicians and staff, expanding research space and purchasing state-of-the-art technology.
A step-up in money for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation - which provides about one-third of the institute's funding - will help make that plan a reality.
"Excitement has just filled the air," Bingham said. "More and more things can be done to help people."
Huntsman said the couple plan to continue and expand other charitable endeavors, including the Center for Abused Women and Children at the YWCA in Salt Lake City and funding for teacher awards and student scholarships.
On Monday, the name of the Jon and Karen Huntsman Foundation - an entity separate from the Huntsman Cancer Foundation - was changed to the Huntsman Foundation and steps were taken to provide it an additional $600 million in funding.
"Eventually, I'm expecting that the foundation will get somewhere close to $1.4 billion," Jon Huntsman said.