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Cancer Institute is exec’s top priority

Dec 21, 2004 6:33 AM

Stepping away from his gaming role, Jim Murren the visionary still has a singular goal in developing the Nevada Cancer Institute, an undertaking he and his wife, Heather, also a former high powered Wall Street executive, undertook after they found that the survival rate for the disease in Nevada is dramatically below the national average.

Murren, whose father died of cancer in February of 2003, has raised $50 million privately toward the construction of what is scheduled to be a 140,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility that "will be staffed by some of the best people in the world" when it opens in August of 2005.

Murren, who credits his ability to do effective research as the key to the success of his projects, said he and his brother, who is a physician, found that while the incidence of cancer among Nevadans is about the same as the national average, a much higher percentage of Silver State residents die of the disease. He said he found Nevadans lacking in education about the role food and nutrition play in the development to the disease, and says they tend to be late in getting diagnosed.

He said that when he first began talking to cancer experts from around the country, they could not believe that Nevada did not have a cancer institute. "Heather and I are taking a business approach" to the creation of the institute and said they raised the money "quickly and aggressively," which is in keeping with his approach to business. — Lou Filardo