Press Releases & Announcements

Donor’s Generous Gift Will Advance Local Cancer Research

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - Danbury, CT

Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation Receives $250,000 Gift to Establish the Monica Muller DeFeo Research Fellow Endowment Fund

A recent gift of $250,000 to the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation will support the cutting-edge cancer research being performed at the Network's Biomedical Research Institute in Danbury, by resident physician scholars alongside world-renowned physician researchers. This major donation was made by former Newtown resident Joseph DeFeo and three sons Christopher, Mark and Joe, in honor of his late wife Monica Muller DeFeo, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2012.

"Monica understood the importance of exceptional research in this area. We chose the WCHN Biomedical Research Institute because it keeps the money for cancer research in the community where Monica grew up and we raised our children, and will more directly benefit patients in this area," said Joseph DeFeo. Monica remained an active patient advocate until the end of her life, fighting for a cure for HER2 breast cancer. She also became an advisory board member for the Research Institute.

The generous DeFeo gift will be used to establish the Monica Muller DeFeo Research Fellow Endowment Fund. Said Ramin Ahmadi, Chair, Medical Education and Research, Western Connecticut health Network, "This fellowship will provide needed financial support for their research and training, and will help the WCHN Research Institute fulfill its purpose: to provide our patients with groundbreaking treatment options and to share important findings with the greater research community. The fund will help encourage young resident physicians to pursue research alongside their clinical duties, developing the next generation of clinical researchers."

Each year one resident physician will hold the distinction of being named the Monica Muller DeFeo Research Fellow. All papers published by these researchers will have this distinction clearly cited in the paper and will also be recognized inside WCHN Biomedical Research Institute and at the Danbury Hospital.

Helping WCHN Meet an Exciting Challenge

The DeFeo donation comes at a pivotal time for WCHN: an unnamed donor, who has already given $10 million to the Network, has challenged the WCHN Foundation to reach its $50 million fundraising goal. The donor will give another $20 million if that goal is achieved. "The DeFeo family's gift to the Research Institute will not only contribute to cancer research, but has moved us substantially closer to our fundraising goal - which puts yet another $20 million for continued improvements to our Network within reach," said Grace Linhard, Executive Director of the WCHN Foundation. "We are grateful and very excited."

WCHN's Imagine Build Transform fundraising campaign

Through its Imagine Build Transform campaign, WCHN is reimagining and expanding facilities to increase access to high quality care and ensure that it always responsive to patients' needs. The campaign's priorities include significant investments in facilities, research and technologies at Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and the WCHN Biomedical Research Institute.

"We are so grateful to the DeFeo Family for helping us to build a world-class research institute," says John M Murphy, M.D., President and CEO, WCHN. "This significant gift, along with the generosity of other donors, signals a new era of philanthropy in health care, as more people choose to invest in the future of their local facilities. Donations to our Research Institute allow us to devise new ways to deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time."

To learn more about Imagine Build Transform: The Campaign for Western Connecticut Health Network, or to make a gift, visit the or call the WCHN Foundation Office at (203) 739-7227. For more information on WCHN, visit,; and share your comments with us at or

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. As a University teaching organization, WCHN is anchored by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital. WCHN offers a full continuum of care through its system of affiliated organizations that provide innovative preventative, primary and specialty care as well as home care.