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$1 million gift celebrates work of late Keck School urologist John Stein

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Gathered around the photo of late USC urologist John P. Stein are (from left): his brother Tom Stein; his wife Randi Stein; Stephen B. Gruber, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center; Jane Centofante; and Stein’s parents Helen Mary and Robert Stein. (Photo/Steve Cohn)

By Hope Hamashige

Jane Centofante came to understand the expertise of the urologists at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in an all too personal way. In 1999, her father Albert Centofante, was treated for bladder cancer at USC Norris by Donald G. Skinner, MD, who was then the chair of the Catherine and Joseph Aresty Department of Urology, Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Through the course of her father’s treatment, Centofante also came to know some of the physicians and medical staff of the USC Norris. Jane Centofante and her family’s impression of the care that their father received was the impetus for  her first two initial gifts to the John P. Stein, MD, Endowed Chair in Urologic Cancer Research in memory of her father Al and, finally, her most recent gift of $1 million to fund the Stein chair.

Stein was a nationally recognized oncologist and researcher before his untimely passing in 2008 at the age of 45. Among his significant research findings was the identification of a molecular marker that predicts which bladder cancer patients would likely face remission and which would have relapses. He also created a surgical technique that revolutionized bladder reconstruction in women. He was the recipient of several honors, including the Young investigator Award from the Society of Urology Oncology.

Stein completed his urology residency under Skinner’s direction and spent his entire clinical career at USC Norris and Keck School of Medicine, rising to the rank of professor. Stein’s reputation led to his inclusion on the list of “America’s Top Doctors” for every year since 2005.

Jane Centofante and her family have a long tradition of philanthropy, following in the footsteps of their parents, Mary and Albert Centofante. Albert Centofante graduated from USC in 1952 with a degree in accounting. In the early 1960s, he co-founded Astrophysics Research Corporation-an early high-technology firm that developed X-ray security screening equipment for airports-which by 1980 occupied more than 90 percent of the overall X-ray security market in the United States and 60 percent of the international market including Russia and China.

Jane Centofante graduated from the USC School of Journalism in 1979 with a bachelor’s followed by a master’s degree in 1981; her two brothers and two sisters are also Trojan alumni. In keeping with the family tradition, she has been a generous supporter of her alma mater over the years and has been active in various USC organizations, including and the Scholarship Club, as well as her other philanthropic activities in the Los Angeles and South Bay communities. In 2001, she and her siblings donated funds to the USC Athletic Department to name the Albert J. Centofante Grand Foyer in the Galen Center in memory of their father.

“We are most grateful for the continuing generosity of Jane whose gift will be a lasting tribute to her father, Al, her family and the memory of Dr. Stein,” said Stephen B. Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH, Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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