News Release

June 7, 2007

Contact: Maureen McGuire, 860-679-4523

“Imagine” Ball Will Benefit Melanoma Program at UConn Health Center

Gala Will Honor Coach Calhoun, Former Aetna Chairman Dr. Jack Rowe and the Today Show’s Dr. Judith Reichman

FARMINGTON, CONN. – It will be a festive, glittering evening, complete with formal attire, masks and a chance to honor three very special guests. “Imagine … unmasking a world without cancer” is the theme for this elegant event.

All are invited to attend the inaugural Imagine Ball to benefit the UConn Health Center’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center on Saturday, October 20, at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.

Along with dinner, dancing and entertainment, the program will also honor three individuals who have made considerable contributions to raise awareness about cancer: Jim Calhoun, head coach of the UConn men’s basketball program and a cancer survivor; John Rowe, M.D., chairman of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees and former chairman and CEO of Aetna, Inc.; and Judith Reichman, M.D., a women’s health expert and physician correspondent for NBC’s Today show.

“Imagine … unmasking a world without cancer,” will be an annual event to support various programs within the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. This year’s extravaganza will benefit the melanoma program by supporting the development of a Cutaneous Oncology Center as a regional center of excellence.

Focusing on Melanoma
“The incidence of melanoma is increasing at an alarming rate. Our hope, through this year’s Imagine Ball, is to raise funds to recruit new faculty and bolster research initiatives in the Cutaneous Oncology Center,” explained Carolyn D. Runowicz, M.D., director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board and former president of the American Cancer Society.

“We are looking forward to seeing many people join us for this wonderful event in support of establishing this center,” she added.

Among those in attendance will be Jane M. Grant-Kels, M.D., director of the Department of Dermatology at the UConn Health Center and one of the region’s leading skin cancer experts. Dr. Grant-Kels is chair of the melanoma program at the Health Center and will be the director of the new Cutaneous Oncology Center.

“All types of skin cancer are on the rise, including the most serious form, melanoma,” said Dr. Grant-Kels. “And melanoma is particularly frightening – someone dies every hour in the U.S. from this disease.”

“At the UConn Health Center, we offer unique services to help men and women detect melanoma in its earliest form as well as comprehensive care if melanoma is diagnosed. Our goal now is to create a Cutaneous Oncology Program within the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center focusing on promising research initiatives as well as enhanced education and outreach efforts,” Dr. Grant-Kels explained.

“We especially want to reach young people who can prevent skin cancer by avoiding sun exposure,” she added, noting that while the chances of developing melanoma increase with age, it is one of the most common cancers in young adults.

The Evening’s Honorees
Here’s a look at the guests who will be honored during the 2007 Imagine Ball.

Jim Calhoun has been head coach of the UConn Men’s Basketball program for 21 seasons. His coaching success story includes winning two NCAA National Championships (1999, 2004) at Connecticut, passing the elite 700-win plateau, and earning basketball’s highest honor, election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2005.

Coach Calhoun has a deep connection with the UConn Health Center. He and his wife, Pat, have generously supported cardiology research for many years. In addition, Coach has also been treated at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center and continues to be a role model for cancer survivors across the nation. In 2007, he started an annual event, the Big Y Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride to benefit the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center and Coaches vs. Cancer. Download a photo of Coach Calhoun:

Jack W. Rowe, M.D., is chairman of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees. He served as chairman and CEO of Aetna, Inc. for many years and was an inspirational leader during a critical time in the company’s more than 150-year history. Dr. Rowe is a national leader in health care policy and has helped to promote the mission of the university. Download a photo of Dr. Rowe:

Judith Reichman, M.D., is a household name because of the helpful and life-saving medical advice she regularly shares with viewers of NBC’s Today show. Along with her busy schedule of television and speaking appearances, Dr. Reichman maintains an active practice in Los Angeles, specializing in gynecology, infertility and menopause and is the author of many health-related books. Download a photo of Dr. Reichman:

“All three of these individuals have made enormous contributions to help raise awareness about cancer prevention, detection and treatment. We are so pleased they can join us for this event to acknowledge our thanks and appreciation,” Dr. Runowicz added.

How to Get Involved
Individuals or businesses interested in becoming sponsors, purchasing tickets, or making a gift to the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center’s melanoma program can call Christine Capasso at the UConn Health Center at 860-679-4569.

Photo Caption: Some of the key volunteers and organizers of the Imagine Ball tried on their masks during a recent kick-off celebration for the gala. They are, from left to right, Carolyn D. Runowicz, M.D., of Avon, director of Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center; Carla Schwartz of Colchester who is the chairman of the Imagine Ball and Barbara Roth of Bloomfield, volunteer.

The Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center provides a full spectrum of cancer services, from education and prevention strategies to early detection services, innovative, state-of-the-art treatments, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation and support services. Patients at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center can participate in a range of clinical trials and research studies. Services are provided in a convenient location at the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington. For more information, visit

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

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