Tyler Trent (AS T’18) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, at 15 years old. Despite his diagnosis, he was determined to attend Purdue University and have a normal college experience. While undergoing aggressive cancer treatment, Tyler maintained a positive attitude, inspiring millions. As his story gained global attention, he used his platform raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research.
Tyler lost his battle with cancer on January 1, 2019, but his legacy lives on through an endowment in his name at the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research. The Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment has led to discoveries in chemotherapeutic studies focusing on tumors like the ones Tyler had.
On October 14, 2023, between quarters of Purdue’s Hammer Down Cancer football game, the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research announced the establishment of the new Tyler Trent Pediatric Cancer Research Center, which will build off the momentum of the endowment to make an even greater impact on pediatric cancer research.
“The decision to launch the Tyler Trent Pediatric Cancer Research Center was an easy one,” says Andy Mesecar, Robert Wallace Miller Director of the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research. “Tyler Trent means so much to the Boilermaker community and the fight against pediatric cancers. It’s our privilege to continue Tyler’s mission to beat pediatric cancer, and that’s what we intend to do.”
The Tyler Trent Pediatric Cancer Research Center will provide opportunities for companies, foundations, and individuals to partner with the cancer institute and support ongoing research, recruit and assist pediatric-cancer researchers, and maximize existing partnerships with colleges and units across Purdue’s campus.
“There are hardly words to articulate what this means,” Tyler’s parents, Tony (A’91) and Kelly Trent, say. “One of Tyler’s passions, as many know, was pediatric cancer research, and to have his name attached to a center doing that work in his honor is absolutely priceless. Words feel inadequate for how grateful we are as a family.”
This new center will help organize pediatric-cancer research efforts that are already taking place and develop enhanced opportunities for external funding and support. The Tyler Trent Pediatric Cancer Research Center will be an asset to the cancer institute’s core grant review through the National Cancer Institute by utilizing the proven program structure and applying novel research to pediatric cancers, with a focus on osteosarcoma.
“Pediatric cancer research continues to be one of the most underfunded areas when it comes to cancer research,” says Mesecar. “The amount of unmet needs in this area just further confirms that launching the Tyler Trent Pediatric Cancer Research Center is the right decision. Of course, in true Boilermaker fashion, we are going to bring new, uniquely Purdue approaches to pediatric cancer research that capitalize on the strengths of not just the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research but the university as a whole.”
The center would not be possible without generous donors like Mike (P’77) and Marsha Flora. “We supported the Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment because of Tyler’s courageous battle against cancer and his devotion to promoting research and finding cures,” the Floras say. “Even though he is no longer with us, he has inspired his Purdue family and others to carry on his quest to find cures for cancer through research.”
Martha “Marti” Schmidt (MS EDU’69), another supporter, served on the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research’s Director’s Advancement Board. Tyler, the first student member of the board, and Schmidt became friends and often spoke on the phone and texted. “I consider supporting the new center a privilege,” she says. “I knew Tyler to be a determined and selfless young man who knew that research will make a huge difference.”
Paula Klipsch (LA’88) served on the board for the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research for six years, seeing firsthand what its researchers were doing. “Not only was Tyler our first student board member, but he was also a friend that I loved to talk to about life, Purdue, and my own cancer journey,” Klipsch says. “I’m truly a very proud Boilermaker because of the life-altering drugs and procedures that have been discovered and developed here at the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research. Purdue has been a partner with Riley Children’s Hospital for years and has worked closely with the doctors and researchers specifically related to Tyler’s case and other pediatric cancers. The Tyler Trent Pediatric Cancer Research Center will hopefully inspire all of us for generations to come in the fight against cancer, especially pediatric cancers.”
For more information on how you can support the Tyler Trent Pediatric Cancer Research Center, contact Brandt Patz, chief development officer for the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-494-6230.
To make a gift to the Tyler Trent Pediatric Cancer Research Center today, click here.