Central Florida residents and tourists alike know the surname — it’s listed on the side of hotels, a convention center, a hotel school and more.
Harris Rosen, the 82-year-old businessman and philanthropist responsible for it all, sat down for an in-depth interview with Spectrum News 13 to talk about a mission that has become a big part of his life.
Rosen intends to cure cancer.
But what he considers inevitable success will not be his – he says the credit will belong to his late son.
What’s in a name?
In 2018, Adam Michael Rosen died of brain cancer at the age of 26.
The loss of her son inspired Harris Rosen to create a lasting legacy in her name, starting a foundation and donating $12 million to cancer research.
Poolside at the fitness center near International Drive named after her son, Rosen said her son is a champion of health and wellness.
He can imagine, while he is training, his son looking down on him and saying, “Dad, thank you very much. Now keep fit.
But physical fitness wasn’t enough to ward off his son’s cancer, so Rosen established the Adam Michael Rosen Neuro-Oncology Laboratories and the Adam Michal Rosen Neuromedicine Facility at the University of Florida Health.
He hopes that when the cancer is cured, his son will receive credit for inspiring the scientists making the discovery at a facility that bears his name.
And for Rosen, curing brain cancer is just the beginning.
“No more radiation. More chemo. No more surgery. Let the immune system do what it’s supposed to do,” Rosen said, explaining that scientists are engineering patients’ immune cells to treat all forms of cancer.
He added that using CAR T cells is essentially engineering a patient’s own immune cells to treat cancer.
How long will it take?
Rosen wants the cancer to be cured right away, but he doesn’t have a specific timeline for success.
He does not rush the doctors and researchers who have dedicated their lives to battling such an insidious disease.
But, he says they are optimistic.
Surrounded by memories
Rosen is proud of the legacy he’s built for his son, but deep down he’s still just a grieving father. It shows in the kiss he gives his son’s figure on the door to his fitness center – or in the details of his wardrobe.
Wearing socks with a bow tie design – he says they’re a nod to his late son’s unique fashion sense and love for all things bow tie.