NetSuite co-founder Evan Goldberg has donated $10 million to create a foundation dedicated to the study of a genetic mutation linked to increased risk of breast, ovarian, and other cancers, the reports.
To be officially launched this week in collaboration with the , , and , the will fund research on abnormalities in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are linked to between 5 percent and 10 percent of all breast cancers. Women with a mutated BRCA1 have a 55 percent to 65 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70, while those with a mutation in the BRCA2 gene have a 45 percent chance of developing the disease by age 70. In contrast, those with normal BRCA genes have just a 12 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70. The defective genes, which also increase the risk of ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, and other cancers, can be passed on by both fathers and mothers. The BRCA Foundation currently funds the , a partnership between and ; the ; and the , which is aimed at helping patients navigate the difficult decisions they often have to make when they learn they carry the mutations.
Goldberg, who was adopted, learned that he carried one of the BRCA mutations when his biological mother contacted him fifteen years ago after she tested positive. Goldberg's biological parents are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent — a population group in which as many as one in forty inherit the mutation, compared with as many as one in four hundred among the general population. Goldberg's biological sister, Lexy Mayers, also carries the mutation and serves on the foundation's board.
"For me," said Goldberg, "the BRCA Foundation was a combination of an intellectual interest and a philanthropic interest in catalyzing new ways of looking at cancer...and, of course, the personal interest in one day helping to treat and cure BRCA cancers for individuals and families such as my own." The foundation eventually hopes to create a large repository of BRCA-positive individuals to help drive research, he told the SF Chronicle, adding that the data alone could improve people's lives quickly and dramatically. "We come from Silicon Valley, so we think of how to use big data, how to use technology, and how to use social networking to make medical science move faster....We're going to be able to do better research with better data, and better research comes from more people willing to get tested and being willing to engage in clinical studies."