The Butler Foundation surpasses $80,000 in gifts to support Mesothelioma Research at the University of Vermont Cancer Center

August 30, 2023 by Kate Strotmeyer

Mike Butler, Founder, and Patricia Butler, President, The Butler Foundation

The Cunniff Lab, in collaboration with RS Oncology, develop novel treatment used in ongoing clinical trial. 

The Butler Foundation recently gifted $35,000 to the Butler Foundation Fund for Cancer Research at the University of Vermont, tipping the scale over $80,000 in cumulative support of groundbreaking research in the lab of Dr. Brian Cunniff, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine.

Their signature fundraising event, an annual Kentucky derby celebration hosted by the Country Club of Troy in Troy, NY brings together family, friends, and donors for an eventful night of dining, dancing and a silent auction. The event was started fifteen years ago by the Butler family to raise awareness in memory of brothers Kevin and John Butler who tragically lost their lives to mesothelioma. “The Butler Foundation has supported research and helped mesothelioma victims for over 15 years. We have been blessed to fund Dr. Cunniff and his team who are making a huge difference in new targeted therapies for this terrible disease,” said Mike Butler, the foundation’s president. 

Dr. Cunniff and his team are working to identify new treatment options for mesothelioma, one of the deadliest cancer types. Since its inception, the Butler Foundation has donated approximately $85,000 to the University of Vermont Cancer Center. “These generous gifts are impactful to the trajectory of our research and the possibility of new options for patients. We are grateful to Mike, Patricia, and the entire Butler family for their generous support as we seek to defeat this devastating disease,” said Dr. Cunniff. 

In 2017, the Cunniff Lab took the critical step of partnering with RS Oncology to bring their therapeutic findings to a Phase 1 clinical trial. Since then, more than 15 patients have been enrolled on the MITOPE trial (NCT05278975) and are receiving this novel treatment. In June, RS Oncology presented preliminary data at the 2023 International Mesothelioma Interest Group Conference from three patients with encouraging responses. The full results of the MITOPE trial will be released in mid-2024.

The philanthropy provided by the Butler Foundation, combined with industry support provided by RS Oncology and an innovative discovery from the Cunniff Lab, is moving the needle for cancer patients. This crucial collaboration will support patients’ access to new and effective therapies that are lacking for rare cancers such as mesothelioma and support critical research efforts to better understand mesothelioma onset and progression.