New Institute Envisions a World Without Cancer   

New Institute Envisions a World Without Cancer

Mike Hennessy and his wife Patti, sitting together hugging and smiling.

July 18, 2023

Inspired by his wife’s tenacity and resilience as she fought recurrent ovarian and breast cancer, Mike Hennessy made it his life’s purpose to improve the lives of patients with cancer. As a medical publisher, he never stopped seeking opportunities to educate health care providers and patients to advance oncology care. Throughout her cancer journey, Patti challenged oncologists, nurses and other health professionals to take more detailed family histories, expand the options for individualized therapy and, most importantly, think outside of the box.

Sadly, Patti’s journey with breast and ovarian cancer ended with her passing at age 59, nearly 10 years after she was diagnosed, and her beloved husband, Mike, died two years later in 2021. But the couple’s advocacy and vision will live on through Hackensack Meridian Health’s Hennessy Institute for Cancer Prevention and Applied Molecular Medicine.

The couple’s four children—Shannon Pulaski, Ashley Hennessy Talamo, Michael Hennessy and Christopher Hennessy—together with the Mike & Patti Hennessy Foundation, have provided a transformational grant to John Theurer Cancer Center to found the Hennessy Institute. It will focus on early detection, genetic risk mitigation and prevention of cancer recurrence.

“We feel extremely grateful and fortunate for the Hennessy family's confidence in our mission to expand beyond cancer to the pre-cancer and post-cancer space,” says Andre Goy, M.D., M.S., chairman of John Theurer Cancer Center, chief of Lymphoma and physician-in-chief for Oncology. “The precancer space includes reduction of risk factors through lifestyle changes and early detection. In the post-cancer space, the goal is to prevent recurrence either by managing measurable minimal residual disease (MRD) through additional therapy or detecting and managing recurrence much earlier.”

The Institute will be housed within a planned outpatient facility in Clifton, near Hackensack Meridian’s School of Medicine and Center for Discovery and Innovation. Dr. Goys says the Institute will focus on implementation of applied molecular medicine, an area of medicine that explores cutting-edge advances in disease diagnosis, therapy and prevention involving advances in biomolecular research. The Institute will deliver this care in a patient-centric, seamless and user-friendly way so people feel comfortable and empowered to take steps to live healthier lives.

The Hennessy Institute will also address health inequities in cancer research and prevention by securing grants for those unable to pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with this type of advanced medicine. Another goal is to present the data collected from the Institute to the insurance industry to demonstrate the benefit of cancer prevention both in terms of costs for payers and patients, as well as the health benefits associated with preventative medicine.

Mike and Patti’s children, through the Mike & Patti Hennessy Foundation, hope to honor their parents’ legacy of seeking innovation, collaboration and improving the quality of life for all. 

“We know that early detection is key to defeating cancer,” says Shannon, who serves as the executive director at the Mike & Patti Hennessy Foundation. “But for individuals who may be at an increased risk for certain types of genetically linked cancers, the process of undergoing testing, tracking and monitoring changes and reducing your chances of being diagnosed with the disease is a cumbersome process. My family and I were motivated to make this transformational gift in the hopes that it will help to save lives before, during and after cancer, and we are humbled to be able to create this opportunity for those in need.”

Adds Joyce P. Hendricks, Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation’s president and chief development officer: “Hackensack Meridian Health is blessed by the vision of the Hennessy family and their trust in our mission, and we look forward to working side by side with them to create the Hennessy Institute for Cancer Prevention and Applied Molecular Medicine. Their passion and generosity—combined with Dr. Goy’s vision—will no doubt change the lives of countless people.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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