Philanthropist views ASU stadium reinvention as expansion opportunity for Sun Devil Nation

March 10, 2017

Editor’s note: This story is one in a series of profiles of individuals being honored as part of the ASU Alumni Association’s 2017 Founders’ Day celebration on March 16. Visit the Alumni Association’s website to read the entire series.

Jack D. Furst is being honored at Founders’ Day 2017 with the Philanthropist of the Year Award, presented by the ASU Foundation For A New American University, for his vision, leadership and philanthropy at Arizona State University. Due to his involvement as a lead donor in the Sun Devil Stadium reinvention project, ASU has raised more than $80 million dollars toward that effort. In addition to enlisting others to support the project, Furst has contributed significantly to fulfill his passion and commitment to the role of athletics in higher education. portrait of Jack Furst Download Full Image

“When finished, the conversion ... will transform ASU's most recognizable physical asset on campus into its largest relational asset,” said Furst. “The stadium will have the potential to connect students, faculty, administrators, alums, patrons, donors, residents of Tempe and surrounding Arizona cities to the spirit of the Sun Devil Nation 365 days a year. The project is relational, smart, strategic, sustainable and stakeholder-oriented as well as innovative!”

Furst is a distinguished private equity investor, with more than 30 years of investment experience. After graduating from ASU in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business, he began his career as a financial consultant at Price Waterhouse in Phoenix. After receiving his MBA from the University of Texas at Austin in 1984, he went to Wall Street to work for the First Boston Corp. as an associate in the corporate finance and merger groups. He returned home to Dallas in 1987 to join the leverage buyout firm of Hicks & Haas Inc., becoming a vice president and subsequently a partner with the firm. In 1989, Furst became one of the founding partners of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Incorporated, which specialized in making private equity investments in companies serving the energy, financial services, food, manufacturing and media sectors.

Currently, Furst is the founder and CEO of Oak Stream Investors, which was launched in 2008. The office manages Furst’s investments in real estate, oil and gas, fixed income securities, venture and public and private equities. He serves as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas and at the University of Texas at Dallas, where he teaches finance and investment-related courses.

Furst serves on the board of directors for several companies, as well as serving as an executive board member of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a 1998 Henry Crown Fellow, a fellowship of leaders that is administered by the Aspen Institute. He was inducted into W. P. Carey School of Business Hall of Fame in 1999 and received the W. P. Carey School of Business 2008 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

Furst credits ASU with helping him learn the skills that have made him a successful investor.

“ASU was a great practice field,” he said. “It gave me some of the confidence required to pursue a career as a deal-maker in the world of finance. … Ultimately, I wanted to become a distinguished investor and contribute to ideas and people working as a team to build companies worthy of investment. Without a doubt, ASU helped me achieve my dream.”

In addition to his commitment to the conversion of Sun Devil Stadium into a multi-purpose/mixed-use facility, he endowed the Jack D. Furst Professor of Finance in 2003, and sponsored the Furst Honors Scholarship for an undergraduate honors student completing a thesis in private equity financing.

Nobel Prize-winning ASU professor garners Research!America honor

March 10, 2017

Leland H. Hartwell, Nobel Laureate and director of the Pathfinder Center at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and Virginia G. Piper Chair of Personalized Medicine, will receive Research!America’s Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award for his leadership and determination in building an outstanding scientific research organization as president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) from 1997 to 2010. The Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award recognizes those who have provided inspiration and determination in building an outstanding home for research.

The award will be presented to Hartwell at the 21st annual Advocacy Awards at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The awards dinner, to be held on March 15, brings more than 400 leaders from government, industry, academia and health advocacy organizations to recognize top medical and health research advocates who have made an impact in advancing the nation’s commitment toward research.  2001 Nobel Laureate and ASU Professor Lee Hartwell. Download Full Image

“Research!America is honored to recognize Dr. Hartwell for his exemplary leadership as a researcher, educator and lifelong advocate for scientific discovery,” Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Dr. Hartwell is deeply committed to educating the next generation of critical thinkers in health, education, technology and sustainability. We salute his achievements.” 

Hartwell won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the cell cycle, a process that describes how cells grow and divide. His research provides a deeper understanding of how cancer cells grow uncontrollably in the body.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. An estimated 40 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer in their life; approximately 1.7 million people have been diagnosed with cancer in 2016. The National Cancer Institute reports there are more than 100 types of cancer. 

The human body contains trillions of cells, which grow and divide as other cells need to be replenished. Cancer occurs when one of these cells starts dividing uncontrollably, creating tumors that make us sick.

During cell division, hundreds of molecular pieces work together coordinating separation into two daughter cells. In his speech at the Nobel banquet, Hartwell likened cell division to an orchestra: “If you think of cell division as a symphony, we knew that the symphony had to be performed by thousands of musicians each playing a different instrument.” Hartwell used a genetic screen in baker’s yeast to identify the molecular musicians that regulate cell division. 

Baker’s yeast and other model organisms provide a simpler system to understand processes like cell division and often provide a foundation for research in more complex organisms including humans. With this approach, Hartwell discovered the gene that regulates the starting point of cell division. During his Nobel speech, Hartwell explained, “And it turned out that the same conductor performed this symphony in all types of cells — yeast, fruit flies, sea urchins, frogs and humans.”

Hartwell also discovered a series of checkpoints during division, where cells can pause to repair any damage they’ve incurred before continuing to divide. However, cancer cells are devious and evade checkpoints, allowing them to reproduce errors and form tumors. These seminal discoveries shaped our modern understanding of cancer. 

Dr. Hartwell’s leadership further elevated FHCRC into a premier research center working to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. In 2010, Hartwell joined the Arizona State University to lead a personalized medicine initiative and has appointments in the schools of Education, Sustainability and Biomedical Engineering. He also leads a team that teaches sustainability science for all pre-service K-8 teachers and aspires to provide continuing education, internationally, for in-service teachers. In addition, Hartwell led the HoneyBee program at ASU overseeing a series of small clinical trials using wearable devices to monitor physiological parameters in clinical patients for a variety of diseases. Recently, he published a study identifying a four-protein biomarkers panel for the early detection of oral cancer, to serve as an adjunct to visual screening in high-risk populations.  

Other 2017 Research!America Advocacy Award honorees are Joe Biden, 47th vice president of the United States, who will receive Research!America’s Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award; Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who will be recognized with the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy; Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the NIH, who is the recipient of the Legacy Award; Kathy Bates, award-winning actress and Lymphatic Education & Research Network spokesperson; Phillip A. Sharp, Nobel Laureate and an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the Lupus Foundation of America.

Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. The 2017 Advocacy Awards represent Research!America’s 21st year of recognizing the accomplishments of leading advocates for medical and health research. For more information, visit