Larry Ellison Donates $200M to Cancer Research at Rebels With a Cause Gala

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James Corden and wife Julia Carey

The fundraiser, hosted by James Corden, honored Cheryl and Haim Saban.

Oracle founder and chairman Larry Ellison surprised the crowd at the third biennial Rebels With a Cause gala on Wednesday night by announced that he was donating $200 million to benefit cancer research.

His donation is targeted for the University of Southern California to establish the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC. The event honored Dr. Cheryl and Haim Saban and benefited the groundbreaking research led by Dr. David Agus, director of the USC Norris Westside Cancer Center and the Center of Applied Molecular Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. 

"Tonight, I'm announcing a gift of $200 million to the University of Southern California to build an interdisciplinary center for cancer research headed by Dr. David Agus," Ellison said. "The new Institute will invite mathematicians, physicists and other scientists to collaborate with cancer researchers from the traditional disciplines of medicine and biology. We believe the interdisciplinary approach will yield up new insights currently hidden in existing patient data."

The event, held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, was hosted by James Corden, who joked: “Cancer knows no race, creed or color. It’s the anti-Donald Trump."

The X Factor winner and fellow Brit Leona Lewis also helped open the show by telling a personal story about how cancer has affected her and performing her single “Fire Under My Feet” for the 500-plus attendees. 

Corden commenced the event with a special anti-cancer rendition of one of last year’s biggest hits, “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber. “Tonight we pledge to end your run, so cancer you can go f— yourself,” Corden sang. 

Ahead of introducing the night’s honorees, Corden shared some humbling words comparing his and Agus’ work. “My job is basically singing in a car with a celebrity,” Corden said. “But Dr. Agus is the Kanye West of pioneering research specialists.”

For the evening’s musical performances, Grammy winner David Foster returned as musical director of the benefit, bringing Christina Aguilera and Kristin Chenoweth to perform.

“Everybody knows somebody that has cancer, and [Agus] is fighting that fight,” Foster said. “I’m dedicated to making music and he’s dedicated to saving our lives.” 

Chenoweth then took the stage and dedicated her version of the classic hit “Over the Rainbow” to those close to her affected by the disease. “I dedicate this song to my mom, my aunt, and all the people who are hoping and winning,” she said. 

“I really believe that these people can win this battle, I really do. I believe that The People v. Cancer will win,” Corden added. “But I did say the same about The People v. O.J. Simpson and they didn’t win that, so we’ll see."

The eventful night ended with Aguilera belting out two of her classic hits — “Fighter” and “Beautiful” — which ended with a standing ovation from the audience.

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