College of Veterinary Medicine receives $5 million for cancer research, pet care

Monday, February 11, 2013 | 2:02 p.m. CST; updated 6:32 p.m. CST, Monday, February 11, 2013

COLUMBIA — A St. Louis-area couple is donating more than $5 million in an estate gift to the MU College of Veterinary Medicine to fund comparative cancer research and medical care for pets.

Cottrell and Kay Fox, of Town and Country, pledged the money in honor of their family veterinarians, Fred Bendick and James Schuessler, who are both graduates of the college.

“We hope this gift will help create great veterinarians and great teachers,” Cottrell Fox, who graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1971, said during the gift announcement Monday. 

Comparative oncology research, which a portion of the gift will fund, seeks to develop ways to diagnose and treat cancer in animals and humans.

“We’re connected to our dogs by more than a leash,” said Carolyn Henry, an MU professor of veterinary oncology. “We share a lot of the same diseases and cancer is one of those.

"What we learn through our comparative oncology work can translate into improved options for cancer care in people.”

The Foxes’ own dog was treated at the college’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for bone cancer. Samarium, the drug used to treat the dog, was cleared for use in humans because of research done at the college. Kay Fox's father was later treated for cancer with the same drug.

The gift will be part of the Foxes’ estate and could be as high as $10 million. The exact amount will be determined when their estate is finalized.

The endowment is the largest in recent years for the vet school. The college received $3.4 million to fund residencies in 2010 and $1 million for scholarships in 2009.

Cottrell Fox is executive vice president of J.W. Terrill, a commercial insurance company based in Chesterfield.

“It’s my way of saying thank you to MU for the best five years of my life,” he said.

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