Home  /  News  /  Clinical Care  /  Cancer

Building the Foundation for Life-changing Cancer Discoveries

Gift from Herbert and Francine Tobin will fund investigations to identify new treatment strategies, novel biotherapies or previously untested drug combinations for prostate cancer.

As a successful real estate developer, Herbert Tobin understands the importance of a solid foundation. The structural integrity of the building rests upon it.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center supporters Herbert and Francine Tobin.
Herbert and Francine Tobin support the research of Jaime Merchan, M.D., because “he brings the practical aspect of science and the human connection to patients.”

When it comes to medical science, research plays a similar role, providing the basis upon which life-changing discoveries are made. That is why Mr. Tobin and his wife, Francine, have made a major investment to support the work of Jaime Merchan, M.D., co-leader of the Translational and Clinical Oncology Research Program, director of phase 1 clinical trials program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

In addition to being a world-renowned researcher, Dr. Merchan is also Mr. Tobin’s physician.

After learning that his prostate cancer had metastasized, Mr. Tobin sought Sylvester’s experience and expertise because it is the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. He says the moment he met Dr. Merchan, he knew he had come to the right place.

A True Physician-Scientist

“It’s very rare for someone who does clinical work to understand research and it’s even more rare to find somebody who does research to excel on the clinical side,” said Mr. Tobin. “Dr. Merchan is very balanced. He brings the practical aspect of science and the human connection to patients into the experience. He understands and knows just what needs to be done.”

Mr. Tobin said he can confidently make that statement because of the remarkable results he received from Dr. Merchan’s treatment protocol. When he first came to Sylvester in 2021, Mr. Tobin had advanced metastatic prostate cancer, meaning his cancer had spread to other parts of his body. His prostate-specific antigen (PSA) markers were off the charts. Within months of treatment from Dr. Merchan, his PSA levels became undetectable and have remained that way.

“For me, this is a huge success story,” said Mr. Tobin. “This means Fran and I get to live our lives. The constant worry is over.”

“We are so grateful to Dr. Merchan,” said Francine. “From the moment we first met him, we knew Herb was in good hands. There’s just something very special about him.”

Power of Philanthropy for Prostate Cancer Research

The dedicated philanthropists and longtime University of Miami supporters decided the best way to express their gratitude for Mr. Tobin’s new lease on life was through a generous gift to support Dr. Merchan’s translational research.

Dr. Jaime Merchan in lab coat
Dr. Merchan says philanthropic efforts like the Tobins’ support some of the most innovative cancer research in the world.

“The research that philanthropy supports is probably the most innovative research taking place. It has the promise to bring the biggest advances, but because it is so novel, it often does not frequently receive external, peer-reviewed funding,” said Dr. Merchan, also a tenured professor at the Miller School. “The Tobins’ gift will allow me and my laboratory to start investigations to identify new treatment strategies, novel biotherapies, or previously untested drug combinations. When successful, we can move them from the bench into impactful patient interventions, which is the next step in discovering cancer cures.”

Dr. Merchan expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the Tobins for their support of his work.

“They didn’t have to do this, but they made this gift because they believe in the research we are doing,” said Dr. Merchan. “The Tobins have total faith and trust that the cure is out there, and that Sylvester is leading the charge.”

Closer to a Cancer Cure

According to Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., the Center’s commitment to translational cancer research has never been stronger.

“Thanks to the generous support of grateful patients and benefactors like the Tobins, Dr. Merchan and our other physician-scientists are developing novel targets and therapies for treating common and rare cancers alike,” said Dr. Nimer, the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology at the Miller School. “Their work is bringing us closer to fulfilling our mission to reduce the human burden from cancer through research, education, prevention and the delivery of quality patient care.”

Tags: Dr. Jaime Merchan, philanthropy, prostate cancer, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center