November 04, 2005

SimmonsCooper to Fund New Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University Law Firm's $10.2 Million Donation Is First of Its Kind to Aid Worldwide Cancer Research

Carbondale, Ill. (November 4, 2005) – SimmonsCooper LLC, announced today that it has pledged $10.2 million to fund a new cancer institute at Southern Illinois University (SIU).

The institute, which will be named The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at SIU, will provide extraordinary new resources to enhance treatments and implement the continuing search for a permanent cure. It is the largest single gift in the history of SIU and will establish the university as home to one of the leading cancer facilities in the United States.

"We believe this is the only instance where a law firm has made such a sizable commitment in this area of vital medical research," said John Simmons, founder of SimmonsCooper. "SimmonsCooper has been at the forefront in fighting for justice for cancer victims. We will continue to show that commitment with our hearts and with our pocketbook.

"I am proud that the Institute is the only major medical center to bear the name of a law firm, but I also hope that others will take a cue from what we have done," added Simmons, a member of the SIU Board of Trustees.

The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at SIU's School of Medicine in Springfield employs a staff of 50 people, and that is expected to grow to 100 in the course of the next two years. The center was established 2 years ago to address health concerns in downstate Illinois.

"This pledge to the Cancer Institute at SIU School of Medicine provides what patients and their families want most – and what doctors want to give – and that is hope," said Dr. J. Kevin Dorsey, dean and provost of the medical school. "This generous philanthropic gift will support several research projects that will ultimately get us closer to what patients, doctors, and families all hope for – a cure for cancer."

The Institute combines existing SIU resources with the new research and treatment facilities enabled by the SimmonsCooper commitment.

It is particularly appropriate that SimmonsCooper is driving this ambitious initiative. One of the nation's leading law firms, SimmonsCooper has spearheaded global legal efforts to provide support for people tragically victimized by asbestos and mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the abdominal cavity, chest cavity, and the region surrounding the heart. Due to its uncommon nature, mesothelioma is typically difficult to diagnose and treat. It has been connected with exposure to asbestos, a material formerly present in many work environments. Only about 3,000 individuals are diagnosed annually.

As part of its donation, SimmonsCooper will endow a Chair at the Institute specifically focused on all respiratory-related forms of cancer. The total pledge amount reflects a donation by the firm as well as a significant personal contribution by John and Jayne Simmons.

"SimmonsCooper must now take one further step by making a substantial return to the community," said Simmons. "We must do everything in our power to provide a medical solution, not just legal recourse. The size of this pledge is, to be sure, financially significant for us and that's the way it should be. "

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said, "The Institute is the latest example of the great leadership and vision that John Simmons has provided since his appointment to our Board of Trustees."

"The SimmonsCooper pledge of $10.2 million to SIU through the SIU Foundation comes on the eve of our first comprehensive capital campaign," said Rickey N. McCurry, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement and Chief Executive Officer of the SIU Foundation. "This is a watershed moment for our university. The mood here can only be described as one of excitement as we announce this gift today."

SIU is additionally well-positioned to maximize the benefits of a cancer research institute because it is only one of 20 universities in the country that offer a joint J.D. and M.D. degree. As such, The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at SIU will provide lawyers and doctors with unique opportunities to collaborate in the gathering of disease-related data and to share information vital to the development of new treatment regimens.

"It is indeed a powerful benefit that this cutting-edge facility should also help eliminate the growing rancor and animosity between doctors and lawyers," added Jeff Cooper, managing partner of SimmonsCooper. "The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at SIU will show what can happen when professionals work together as partners in the common cause of public health."

About SimmonsCooper LLC

SimmonsCooper LLC, based in East Alton, Illinois, with offices in Chicago, is the country's leading asbestos litigation firm, with strong practices also in securities litigation, toxic torts, business-to-business, and international product liability and torts. Visit us at

About Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University opened its doors in 1869 in Carbondale and has taken great pride in its services providing generations of graduates with excellent educational opportunities. Today SIU is known as one of the nation's most comprehensive research universities offering more than 200 courses of study at undergraduate and graduate levels. SIU enrolls more than 20,000 students, including students in the SIU School of Medicine and the SIU School of Law. Based in Carbondale, it attracts students from more than 100 countries across the globe and serves those in the Armed Forces with programs at military bases across the U.S. SIU's traditions of offering first-generation students an affordable education and in tackling applied research continue today. More information about the University can be found at

SOURCE: SimmonsCooper LLC