Kit Lam was honored December 21 as the inaugural holder of the Sue Jane Leung Presidential Chair in Cancer Research.

Kit Lam accepting placqueChancellor May, Kit Lam, Lucky Lara and David Lubarsky at Leung presidential chair celebration

The presidential chair is the result of a $1.5 million gift to UC Davis from the family of Sue Jane Leung and a $500,000 contribution from the UC Office of the President. Lam is chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and co-director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Cancer Therapeutics Program.

UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, Vice Chancellor of Human Health Sciences and CEO of UC Davis Health David Lubarsky and Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Primo “Lucky” Lara all spoke during the celebratory reception, acknowledging the family’s generous donation and Lam’s distinguished career in biochemistry.

Sue Jane Leung, who never smoked, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006 and fought the disease with tenacity until her death five years later. Her daughter, Lucinda Hsu, and her father, James Leung, a UC Davis engineering graduate, decided to make the gift to UC Davis to honor Sue’s strength and determination.

“My mother believed a cure for cancer will be found and hoped that at least one of her grandchildren would someday pursue a career in cancer research or the practice of medicine,” Lucinda Hsu told Synthesis magazine last year. “This is something that will help other families, people we may never know.”

Lam, who has pioneered novel approaches to cancer drug delivery, said the generous gift from the Leung family will allow the Cancer Center and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine to build a world-class cancer drug development and drug delivery program.

“The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and I are very grateful for the Leung family’s generosity, and their foresight in supporting research in the development of novel cancer therapy,” Lam said.