Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — Declaring it “the best part of the job,” Avon president and chief executive Andrea Jung announced Tuesday the beauty company would contribute $14 million to breast-cancer causes this year. It is the largest single corporate gift to date for the disease.
Since 1993, Avon has raised $75 million worldwide — $55 million in the U.S. — to fund awareness and education campaigns, with particular emphasis on minority women.
With its latest grant, Avon will additionally fund research programs. Five medical centers will each receive $2.2 million. They are: Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital; University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center; Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, and The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of California, Irvine Medical Center.
Cancer Care Inc. of New York receives $2.1 million and National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund of Washington, $620,000. Both provide support services to cancer patients and their families.
Jung said Avon’s efforts would persist until there is a cure. Fund-raisers this year include seven Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day walks and the sale of Avon Pink ribbon products. “We want to eradicate this disease as fast as humanly possible,” she said.
Medical experts representing the five research beneficiaries, assembled at Peterson Hall in Manhattan to accept the awards and field questions, hesitated when an audience member asked how long that would be.
Then Dr. Jonathan Simons, who is leaving Johns Hopkins to become director designate for the new Winship Cancer Institute, replied, “A lot sooner than yesterday, thanks to this grant from Avon [because of the funding targeted to research].” Providing inspiration that life-threatening diseases like cancer can be cured, he said his last class of graduate students at Hopkins “knew nothing about polio and did not know what an iron lung looked like.”
Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and chief executive of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, called the Avon gift “unprecedented.” With a reduction in government funding, he said, “It is private efforts like these that enable us to have an aggressive attack.”
In other news, Avon has entered a five-year strategic alliance with Roche Consumer Health to develop a line of vitamins and nutritional supplements for introduction next year. It is the first phase of the company’s announced plan to build a health and wellness product collection that could generate $200 million to $300 million within five years.

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