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Gift launches OSU effort to improve cancer treatment for pets

CORVALLIS, Ore. - A $500,000 gift from Ken and Celia Austin is kick-starting fundraising for a device to deliver radiation treatment to animals at Oregon State University's Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine.

The instrument, known as a linear accelerator, will expand treatment options for animals with cancer at the college's Lois Bates Acheson Teaching Hospital. At this time, there is no radiation oncology treatment available to animals in Oregon. The nearest facilities offering the treatment are in Washington and California.

"Radiation therapy is one of the mainstays of cancer treatment, and the lack of facilities in the state of Oregon is a difficult hurdle to overcome for our patients," said Dr. Haley Leeper, a veterinary oncologist at the teaching hospital. She estimates that about a third of the oncology patients seen at the hospital could benefit from radiation treatment.

The Austins, who are both alumni of Oregon State and live in Newberg, are longtime supporters of the college and the university. Ken Austin serves on the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine's Advisory Council. The couple's Labrador retriever was treated for bladder cancer at the hospital. Their gift was made through the OSU Foundation.

The accelerator will be housed in a vault in a new wing of Magruder Hall. Construction for the wing is part of an expansion of the college's clinical and educational facilities. The project includes additional instruction space and will allow for increased services at the small animal hospital, which has treated more than 20,000 animals, primarily cats and dogs, since opening in 2006.

The accelerator will cost about $2.2 million and will be used for patient treatment and oncology research. Donations toward the project can be made online at: https://beav.es/Z8C. The equipment will be up and running about a year after the purchase is complete.

"We are very grateful to Ken and Celia Austin for their wonderful contribution to funding the linear accelerator," said Susan Tornquist, the college's Lois Bates Atcheson Dean. "We hope that their generosity inspires others who value the health and well-being of companion animals large and small to also support the treatment of cancer in patients at the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine."


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