By Jonesa Rodriguez
Six years after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, Mark Pentecost is still making it his mission to help find a cure. That’s why he recently donated $10 million to Moffitt Cancer Center to establish a research center dedicated to multiple myeloma.
After traveling the country searching for the top care to treat his cancer, Pentecost was referred to Moffitt. Without planning to, he found the care he was looking for in his backyard.
“Sometimes you think you have to travel the world to get the best care,” said Pentecost. “Until you realize you have a gem in your own yard.”
After receiving life-changing treatment from Dr. Rachid Baz and his care team, Pentecost and his wife, Cindy, became supporters of the cancer center.
“When I first met Dr. Baz, he was so gracious and very humble,” Pentecost said. “Whenever I would come in with questions about a research article I read, he always listened and explained everything.”
From there, the Pentecost family built a special relationship with Baz and the Moffitt Multiple Myeloma program, which prompted them to donate $3 million in 2018. This gift supported Moffitt’s Ex Vivo Mathematical Myeloma Advisor, or EMMA, a tool developed by Drs. Ken Shain and Arisoto Silva that can test a patient’s cancer sensitivity to dozens of drugs at one time, individually and in combination.
“Dr. Baz and the whole team, their knowledge is second to none,” said Pentecost. “They made me a great believer in Moffitt, and I wanted to be a pioneer that could help.”
Now, three years later, the Pentecost family is providing funds to create the Pentecost Family Myeloma Research Center at Moffitt.
The goal of the research center is to find a cure for multiple myeloma within the next 10 years and establish a new standard of care for patients. This will be done by facilitating cutting-edge translational research and leveraging expertise from across the cancer center.
“Our partnership with the Pentecost family has facilitated a great expansion of our personalized medicine approach to myeloma treatment,” said Baz, senior member and director of clinical research in Moffitt’s Department of Malignant Hematology.
“Mark and Cindy’s recent gift lays the foundation for the next steps needed to transform the current standard of care and cure multiple myeloma.”
The Pentecost family also hopes that the gift will help facilitate breakthroughs that can increase both the quality of life and outcomes for those fighting the rare blood cancer.