News Release

July 31, 2009

Contact: Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

‘Miracle Worker’ Physician Inspires Gift to UConn Health Center

Patient, Husband Donate to Support Dr. Upendra Hegde, Cancer Researcher, Clinician

FARMINGTON, CONN. – A major gift from an Avon couple will support the work of Dr. Upendra Hegde, a physician-researcher at the University of Connecticut Health Center’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Hegde, who specializes in immune-based treatment of melanoma and the interaction of the aging immune system and cancer, says private support like that from Richard and Jane Lublin “is a very important piece of the puzzle for us to do the basic framework of research and then approach the National Cancer Institute or other organizations for additional funding. The ability to generate preliminary data is critical so we can highlight research areas that seem especially promising.”

“Dr. Hegde is really a miracle worker, and gave us hope in the darkest days of our six-month fight with a horrific malignant metastatic cancer,” says Richard Lublin. “He was unbelievably kind, caring and compassionate. From the day we discovered Jane’s cancer, he offered encouragement that we would win this battle.”

Hegde hopes within five years there will be a better understanding of the relevance of the immune system in melanoma and a way to more easily identify patients who would benefit from immune-based treatments. He says that many older patients are not included in today’s clinical trials, causing the field to possibly “miss an important segment of potential patients.” He believes that immunology research at UConn conducted by Drs. Bijay Mukherji and Pramod Srivastava has paved the way for the development of a possible melanoma vaccine, and related work has led to understanding of the functioning of the immune system at the molecular level.

The Lublins say they’d like their gift to spark interest in similar contributions from others affected by cancer, and see this is a first step in hopefully preventing the disease through treatment and early intervention efforts.

“No one really knows when they themselves might need care like we received,” Richard Lublin says. “Together, we can advance research to new levels in our efforts to eliminate cancer.”

More information about how to support cancer research at the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center is available through Dina Plapler at the UConn Foundation, 860-679-8077 or More information about the Neag Cancer Center is available at

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