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Inez Wade became a real estate agent, not for fame or fortune, but to raise money for cancer research in honor of her brother Stanley Grode, who passed away from acute myeloid leukemia in 1990.

In 2017, Inman shared Wade’s story, and now five years later, the research she’s helped fund has continued to blossom. The luxury agent, who is now affiliated with The Corcoran Group, shared some incredible updates on where the research has advanced in the last five years and the lives that have been saved as a result.

A slew of FDA approvals for new treatments

Since Inman spoke with Wade in January 2017, Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, where she established a research endowment in leukemia and related blood cancers and on whose leadership council she serves, has garnered 18 U.S. Food and Drug Administration approvals for new cancer treatments. The center was where Wade’s brother was treated before he passed away.

The first approval was for Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-Cell Therapy, a type of therapy by which a patient’s T cells are genetically engineered to attack their own blood cancer cells. Through the therapy, the modified cells remain in the body for years after being infused, essentially behaving as what Penn researchers of the therapy have called “a living drug” that remains and evolves in the body over time in order to continue combating abnormal cells.

Inez Wade | The Corcoran Group

A documentary called “Of Medicine and Miracles” was recently made by director Ross Kauffman about the groundbreaking T-Cell Therapy and the six-year-old patient Emily Whitehead who was the first child to receive the therapy in 2012. (Prior to that, a small sample of adult cancer patients had tested the therapy.) In June, Whitehead celebrated 10 years of being cancer-free. The film debuted at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City that same month.

Since Whitehead’s treatment ten years ago, about 15,000 people have been treated with CAR T-Cell Therapy, Wade reported.

“So, it’s really extraordinary,” she said.

The remaining 17 FDA approvals based on studies led or co-led by Abramson Cancer Center investigators include additional CAR T-Cell personalized immunotherapies, imaging, surgery techniques and targeted drug therapies.

The Solid Tumor Vaccine Research Fund at Penn

During her conversation with Inman back in 2017, Wade explained how after closing a record-breaking deal in 2012, she founded the Solid Tumor Vaccine Research Fund at Penn.

“Our fund is working on vaccines for solid tumors,” she told Inman recently.

Specifically, the fund is supporting three scientific research groups at Penn who are all working on distinct methods for how to treat solid tumors.

Those three scientific groups are working on research in solid tumor immunotherapy, which includes creating vaccines tailored to individual patients by using their dendritic cells (cells that are critical for creating and maintaining an immune response); immunotherapy for the previously believed to be untreatable KRAS mutations, which include lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancers; and immunotherapy focused on the programming of dendritic cells for cancer treatment.

Speaking about the developments, Wade clearly became energized by the progress scientists are making with her support and what it could mean for the not-so-distant future of cancer treatments.

“It’s very exciting,” she said, after rattling off a number of terms that the average person might need a medical dictionary to understand.

The real estate deals that have helped fund the research

Wade’s drive to continue the fight against cancer by funding research through her commissions has helped her close some impressive deals in recent years.

From $5 million to $30 million properties, each one has helped her get closer to helping more people defeat cancer.

Wade said she wasn’t at liberty to discuss the properties in detail due to client confidentiality concerns, but her history of past sales on Corcoran’s website shows a few substantial details that have no doubt helped her contribute to the cause.

In April 2019, Wade sealed the deal on a $13.5 million, six-bedroom condo at 135 E. 79th St., just a few blocks away from Central Park on the Upper East Side. Not too far from that unit in Lennox Hill, Wade sold a four-bedroom unit at 737 Park Ave. for $12.5 million at the end of 2017. And in July 2020, she sold a three-bedroom duplex located at 180 E. 88th St. for $11.2 million.

Spreading the charitable spirit

Aside from her family, Wade said that continuing to fund cancer research, staying engaged in the latest research developments and helping connect cancer patients with treatments that might help them is the most important thing in her life.

She hopes that other real estate agents can similarly find a passion in helping others through the work they do.

“Find a passion. Give up your time or donate money, whichever works best for you,” Wade advised. “You will benefit in all respects from giving to others. You’ll feel very good about yourself … It will engage other people to want to work with you.”

“I really encourage people to find compassion outside of themselves,” she added.

Individuals interested in donating to the cause in honor of Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month this September can contribute to Penn’s Solid Tumor Vaccine Research Fund here.

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Email Lillian Dickerson

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