News Release

November 7, 2006

Contact: Carolyn Pennington, 860-679-4864

Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research Pledges $1.25 Million for Hematologic Disorders Center

FARMINGTON, CONN. – A Hartford-based foundation has pledged $1.25 million to establish a named center for hematologic disorders at the UConn Health Center.

Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research is a longtime supporter of the Health Center, and this latest gift will expand hematological services through the Center’s clinical care and translational research in the summer of 2007. Pending approval by UConn’s Board of Trustees, it will be named the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders. The Center will meet the needs of patients with benign and malignant blood disorders, and include dedicated space for the children of patients living with the diseases, allowing patients to come unencumbered with child-care issues.

“Through this center, we’ll be able to translate the latest research directly into patient care, what we say is ‘from bench to bedside’ research,” says James Thibeault, director of Signature Programs at the UConn Health Center. “There aren’t too many blood centers affiliated with a cancer center, as we will be able to do here. There’s just a tremendous demand for these services.”

Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center, says the synergy of research and treatment will attract top staff.

“This allows us to recruit high-level physicians and experts in hematological disorders to the UConn Health Center. Connecticut residents will benefit tremendously because they will be able to access the leading researchers in the field,” she says.

Thibeault adds that because of insurance and other restrictions, many patients with blood disorders “fall through the cracks,” and the center will be able to assist those who need the lengthy and complicated treatments required for the related conditions.

Michael Economos, Lea’s Foundation chairman, says the organization’s board of directors was impressed with the local services offered at the UConn Health Center.

“Since the majority of the funds were collected locally, we also wanted to identify and support a premier local institution like the UConn Health Center. It’s a diamond in the rough,” he says. “Our commitment of $1.25 million was a difficult decision, and at the same time an easy one. We believe Dr. Runowicz’s leadership and dedication will make this a success and an asset to the community.”

The board of Lea's Foundation for Leukemia Research consists mostly of young adults and provides unparalleled dedication and energy for the eradication of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The UConn Health Center’s plans further this mission and will offer a state of the art treatment center for those with benign and malignant blood disorders.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

Note: News professionals are invited to visit the UConn Health Today news page ( for regularly updated news and feature stories, photos and media stories. News releases are archived at UConn Health news and information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.