$15 million gift for Moffitt

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute received its largest private donation ever Tuesday – $15 million from retired industrialist Vincent Stabile.

The gift from 85-year-old Stabile, a significant benefactor for several other charitable causes, is intended to support future cancer research at Moffitt. In recognition of his contribution, Moffitt will name its new research tower, currently under construction, The Vincent A. Stabile Research Building. The facility will be used to develop anti-cancer drugs, recruit internationally renowned researchers and conduct research into genetic screening.

For Jack Pledger, Moffitt interim director, the donation is a vindication of Moffitt’s research into cancer care and prevention.

“I think it’s fantastic. We do a lot of work towards the prevention of cancer. We’re not for profit or money,” Pledger said. “To have somebody share that vision with you and to be willing to invest $15 million to help that mission grow, it makes me feel we’re doing something right.”

The windfall arrives at a crucial time for Moffitt, the only cancer center in Florida to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center, as the construction of a research tower and out-patient clinic, part of a 350,000-square-foot expansion program, nears completion. Moffitt is currently operating near capacity; they currently treat 150,000 outpatients each year, with that figure expected to rise. Pledger said the donation would allow Moffitt to continue to grow and to equip its new research facility ahead of schedule.

“It will go to the (research) building, there is a tremendous cost in equipping it. The plans for the development of the building are accelerated,” said Pledger. “This allows us to move very rapidly to open up a greater portion of the building.”

Stabile was first made aware of Moffitt by board member Joe Cox. According to Pledger, Cox and fellow board member Connie Mack were instrumental in developing Stabile’s interest in the program.

In a statement released by Moffitt, Stabile said the favorable impression he received following a visit to Moffitt had been behind his decision to make the donation to Moffitt.

“I was impressed by the obvious determination to find the keys to treating and hopefully eliminating the various forms of cancer,” he said. “Moffitt’s devotion to research prompted my helping in consolidating its research into its new building.”

A mechanical engineer by trade, Stabile went into business in 1950 designing and patenting retaining rings, an industrial fastener with a variety of uses that proved hugely successful. He sold his business interests in 1994 to devote his time to philanthropic activities. He has established scholarships for people who raise seeing-eye dogs in New Jersey, made contributions to the Mayo Clinic, hospices and adult literacy and reading centers. He has also supported the arts, making contributions to the New York Grand Opera Company and the Naples Orchestra.

Pledger said it was an honor for Moffitt to be chosen as the beneficiary of Stabile’s generosity

“I think it’s fantastic that he is so concerned to do something that will help not only Moffitt or the people of Florida, but people around the U.S. and the whole world,” Pledger said. “I think he’s hit on something that he was looking for to give something back to the community and the citizens of the world. For him to select us to be that avenue, that is spectacular.”