Peak's multi-million dollar gift establishes brain tumor center

Mikaila Adams  

Kenneth R. Peak, oil and gas visionary and founder, chairman, and former CEO of Contango Oil & Gas Co., passed away April 19 at the age of 67 after a courageous battle with an inoperable brain tumor.

As friends and family mourn the loss of the husband, father, grand-father, uncle, brother, and leader, they are comforted by their memories of the man they say "never gave up, he just ran out of time."

In the spirit of Peak's dedication to the company he founded and believed in, Contango colleagues will carry on Peak's mission guided by the principles and strategies he developed.

And, with a $10 million gift to The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Peak's vision and compassion will bring a new level of care to brain and pituitary tumor patients from around the world.

The generous commitment will create The Kenneth R. Peak Brain & Pituitary Tumor Treatment Center, a state-of-the-art facility at The Methodist Hospital set to offer personalized neurosurgical and cancer treatment options, and give patients access to novel research studies not available elsewhere.

Investigational therapies will include immunotherapy; nanosyringes for drug delivery; mitochondrial "smart bombs" (selective mitochondrial chemotherapy); stem cells; gene therapy; genomic, proteonomic and DNA profiling, and high throughput screening of each person's tumor to every known drug available for treatment.

"Brain and pituitary tumors are a devastating set of diseases. We are bringing together specialists from all over the world and designing novel treatment options available to each patient, so we can make this journey as smooth as possible, and when possible, eradicate tumors and cancer," said David S. Baskin, MD, director of the Peak Center, vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery, and a renowned neurosurgeon at The Methodist Hospital.

Kenneth R. Peak, oil and gas visionary and founder, chairman, and former CEO of Contango Oil & Gas Co., passed away April 19 at the age of 67 after a courageous battle with an inoperable brain tumor.

The center will be housed in Methodist's outpatient facility and will be integrated with the Methodist Cancer Center. It will focus on brain metastases (most cases involve cancers that have metastasized from the breast or lung); pituitary disorders (While most of the 8,000 pituitary tumor cases diagnosed each year are noncancerous, these tumors can cause vision loss or several life threatening disorders due to increase or decrease in production of certain hormones. They can be cured or controlled in over 90% of cases); glial tumors (primary tumors of the central nervous system); and meningiomas and skull base tumors.

"We consider each patient to be unique, and know that each tumor has different genetic information and biological behaviors. The Peak center will capitalize on these differences, starting with an initial $4 million commitment to research which we hope will further our goal to provide personalized treatment using new technologies to achieve cure rates never thought to be possible," said Baskin.

According to the American Brain Tumor Association, for every 100,000 people in the US, approximately 221 are living with the diagnosis of a brain tumor. Approximately 10,000 people are diagnosed with a glioma in the US each year. Treatment usually involves surgery and chemotherapy, but the survival rate is poor, with only one patient in five surviving two years.

Peak formed Contango in 1999 and served as the company's chairman and CEO until August 2012, when he received a medical leave of absence from the company, maintaining his role as chairman.

Peak served as an officer in the US Navy after obtaining a degree in physics from Ohio University. He earned an MBA from Columbia University in 1972 and entered the energy industry in 1973.

Peak is survived by his loving wife Donna, his daughter Mariclare, son Joe, sister Sandy, and brother Mike. With his generous gift to The Methodist Hospital, his determination and compassion live on.

Our hearts go out to all who knew him.

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