Passionate Partnership Supports Stanford Research

Suzanne Pride Bryan (left) and LPGA star Cristie Kerr share a passion for wine and breast cancer research. Credit: courtesy of Suzanne Pride Bryan

Vintner and Golfer Team Up to Beat Breast Cancer

In October 2013, Suzanne Pride Bryan presented SCI member Allison Kurian, MD, MSc, with a check for $50,000. The carefully considered donation enabled Kurian to acquire huge amounts of molecular and genomic data for her “Oncoshare” breast cancer data-sharing project.

"Integrating this information will dramatically enrich the Oncoshare database,” said Kurian, an assistant professor of medicine, health research and policy. “It will enable us to discover tumor and patient profiles that predict the benefits and harms of specific therapies."

It will enable us to discover tumor and patient profiles that predict the benefits and harms of specific therapies.

Pride Bryan is co-owner of Pride Mountain Vineyards in St. Helena, California, and the donation represented her share of proceeds from sales of Curvature wines, limited production Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay that she co-created explicitly to raise money for breast cancer research. Like her wines, her investment in Stanford science was the result of a long and very personal journey.

Working at her winery in 2009, Pride Bryan was told that a famous athlete was in the tasting room inquiring about a wine project. Such requests are not unusual for prestigious wineries—Pride Mountain Vineyards wines have been served in the White House by four different Presidents— so Pride Bryan was prepared to offer a polite, but firm, “no thank you.”

The athlete was LPGA star Cristie Kerr, one of the world’s top professional women golfers, and she was seeking a partner to produce wines to raise money to benefit breast cancer patients. After her mother was diagnosed with the disease Kerr made breast cancer her top philanthropic priority, including creating the “Birdies for Breast Cancer” program with the LPGA. She had no idea when they met that Pride Bryan was a five-year breast cancer survivor; and she could never have guessed the Pride family’s experiences with cancer.

Suzanne’s father, Jim Pride, was a born entrepreneur. An accomplished farmer, dentist and educator, he established the premier institute for dental management consulting. In 1990 he “retired” to California’s wine country and soon became a successful vintner. Then in 2001, at age 65, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Pride sought treatment at Stanford, and for three years he and his wife Carolyn made frequent trips to Palo Alto. On one such trip, they attended a lecture by SCI member Irv Weissman, MD, the Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research, during which he mentioned his preference for Australian wines. Following the talk, Pride gave Weissman his own lecture on the superiority of California varietals. A fast friendship was born.

Though not treating Pride, Weissman made time to visit him. They discussed wine and research, and Pride saw an opportunity to help others who shared his diagnosis. In 2004, he and Carolyn donated $500,000 to help Weissman’s lab study the genetics of bladder cancer.

That same year Pride Bryan was diagnosed with breast cancer. She also received care at Stanford, her treatment cycle actually overlapping with her father’s.

“Dad and I ended up having chemotherapy side by side,” she recalled.

Jim Pride passed away in August 2004, just as his daughter was completing her treatment.
He never got to see how his family’s gift helped identify three distinct sub-types of bladder cancer, as well as a way to determine if patients have an aggressive, essentially untreatable form. These advances help oncologists make important care decisions, including whether to forego painful treatment and focus on quality of life.

There is a much longer path from your parents’ donation than any of us could expect

"There is a much longer path from your parents’ donation than any of us could expect,” Weissman recently wrote to Pride Bryan. “My only regret is that our discoveries are too late for the wonderful guy who catalyzed it."

So when golfer Kerr suggested a philanthropic project, Pride Bryan was ready. As Curvature sales progressed, she searched Stanford for opportunities where her portion of the proceeds could make a difference. (Kerr uses her share to fund the Cristie Kerr Women’s Health Clinic in New Jersey, which provides breast cancer screening and diagnosis.)

“I had to be discerning with the money,” said Pride Bryan. “I chose Oncoshare because our targeted investment could have direct impact on patients.”

Most donors lack the resources and relationships that helped Pride Bryan and Kerr leverage their investments, and that is why SCI established the Cancer Discovery Fund—to combine gifts of all sizes, support Stanford’s brightest researchers and truly advance the standard of cancer care.

As Pride Bryan said, “If everybody does what we can—no matter what the amount—together we can make the difference between heartbreak and hope.”

For more information or to make a gift, please visit the Cancer Discovery Fund.

Original article appeared in Stanford Cancer Institute News.