2015 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2015 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2013 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2013 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2014 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2012 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2012 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2011 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2011 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2010 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2010 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2009 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2009 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2005 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2006 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2007 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

2008 New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle regularly publish findings on the latest cancer research and are frequently recognized for their contributions to the fight against cancer.  Below, you will find new discoveries in cancer research and the most recent honors bestowed upon Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awardees, alumni and friends.

Damon Runyon Foundation Grants Prestigious Fellowship Awards to 16 Top Young Scientists

Grants totaling over $3.3M give early career investigators independence to pursue novel ideas


New York, NY (July 17, 2015) – The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on supporting innovative early career researchers, named 16 new Damon Runyon Fellows at its spring Fellowship Award Committee review. The recipients of this prestigious, four-year award are outstanding postdoctoral scientists conducting basic and translational cancer research in the laboratories of leading senior investigators across the country. The Fellowship encourages the nation's most promising young scientists to pursue careers in cancer research by providing them with independent funding ($208,000 each for basic scientists, $248,000 for physician-scientists) to work on innovative projects.

May 2015 Damon Runyon Fellows:

Lacy J. Barton, PhD, with her sponsor Ruth Lehmann, PhD, at the New York University School of Medicine Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York, investigates the regulation of cell migration. Specifically, she aims to understand how spatial information is generated to guide migrating cells and how cell migration is terminated when the target tissue is reached. To gain insights into these processes, she is studying migration of Drosophila germ cells to the gonad during embryogenesis as a model system. Because many features of this model system are similar to tumor cell migration, novel processes she discovers will shed light on the mechanisms of metastasis.
Danfeng Cai, PhD,
with her sponsor Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, PhD, at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, is interested in whether the state of cellular “protein crowdedness” can be used to differentiate healthy normal cells from cancer cells. Having the ability to monitor protein crowding and protein-folding landscapes within cells could provide a valuable “readout” for changes in metabolism and the overall health or dysfunction of cells.
Gina V. Caldas, PhD,
with her sponsor Craig C. Mello, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, is investigating the mechanisms by which RNA interference (RNAi) related pathways, implicated in cancer primarily through their role in regulating gene expression, contribute to the fidelity of cell division. In addition to major changes in gene expression, a hallmark of many cancers is genome instability and chromosome loss, processes highly related to inaccurate cell division. Using C. elegans as a model system, her goal is to identify new aspects of cell division control that can be targeted for cancer therapy.
Qi Hu, PhD,
with his sponsor Kevan M. Shokat, PhD, at the University of California, San Francisco, is focusing on developing small molecule inhibitors to regulate the activity of Gαs, a subunit of the stimulatory G protein, which is encoded by the GNAS gene. Activating mutations of GNAS have been revealed to contribute to progression and metastasis of several kinds of cancers. About 64% of these mutations result in a single variant, which keeps Gαs in a constitutively active state. His goal is to design and synthesize small molecules to specifically inhibit the abnormally activated Gαs, which would be promising tools for treatment of cancer.
Bryan C. King, PhD [Berger Foundation Fellow],
with his sponsor Craig B. Thompson, MD, at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, is studying mechanisms by which nutrient-deprived cancer cells use extracellular proteins as a source of energy to promote their growth and survival. These mechanisms enable cancer cells to thrive in environments in which normal healthy cells cannot survive. He will investigate a new role for a molecular signaling pathway, called AMPK, in how the cell senses and responds to changes in nutrient availability. These studies may give insights into how cancer cells develop resistance to therapy, as well as be applied to developing new therapeutic approaches.
Allison N. Lau, PhD,
with her sponsor Matthew G. Vander Heiden, MD, PhD, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, aims to characterize the unique metabolism of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cancer cells. In general, it is known that cancer cells have altered metabolism compared to non-cancerous cells; however, it is unknown how different cell types within a tumor utilize nutrients and how this may contribute to tumor progression and metastasis. This research will provide insight into the metabolic dependencies of different cells found within the pancreatic tumor environment and may potentially be useful for developing novel therapies.
June-Yong Lee, PhD [HHMI Fellow],
with his sponsor Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD, at the New York University School of Medicine Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York, studies how the cells and molecules of the immune system within the tumor microenvironment contribute to initiation, tumor progression, and responses to anti-cancer therapy. Of the immune components, cells called interleukin-17-secreting lymphocytes have pivotal pathogenic roles in multiple cancers. He aims to elucidate the regulatory mechanisms by which this pathogenicity is controlled. Ultimately, a better understanding of the pathways may suggest promising targets for therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing the risk of cancer.
Kathrin Leppek, PhD [Layton Family Fellow],
with her sponsor Maria Barna, PhD, at Stanford University, Stanford, aims to combine RNA and ribosome biology with developmental biology to investigate how cells regulate protein synthesis through a process called translation. This process requires regulatory mechanisms to fine-tune when and where genes are expressed. Defective expression of certain genes gives rise to uncontrolled growth and metastasis of cancer cells. She will identify and characterize molecular components that play a functional role in mediating translational control during embryogenesis. This will be invaluable for our understanding of how deregulation of accurate gene expression underlies human diseases such as cancer.
Tera C. Levin, PhD [HHMI Fellow],
with her sponsor Harmit S. Malik, PhD, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, studies how resident microorganisms can manipulate the development of their animal hosts. Through novel genetic approaches, she will explore the mechanisms used by the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis to dramatically disrupt the cell divisions of its host, Drosophila simulans. Because cancerous growth is often driven by the dysregulation of developmental signaling pathways, understanding the mechanistic impacts of resident microbes promises to illuminate both normal and cancer development.
Lyndsay M. Murrow, PhD,
with her sponsor Zev J. Gartner, PhD, at the University of California, San Francisco, is using an engineered 3D model of the human mammary gland to determine how stem cells in the breast sense and respond to overall cellular composition. She aims to understand how sparsely distributed stem cells use local cues in the tissue to sense global changes in cell number. Since loss of tissue organization and abnormal stem cell differentiation are two key features underlying breast cancer development, this work will help identify new strategies for breast cancer prevention and treatment.
Vu Quang Nguyen, PhD,
with his sponsor Carl Wu, PhD, at the HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, uses advanced fluorescence microscopy to visualize how defined structural changes in chromatin, the condensed form of DNA, affect its association with factors required for transcription initiation—an early and essential step in gene expression. Architectural defects in chromatin are found in many cancers and have been linked to aberrant patterns of gene expression. The results of this research will be important in characterizing the connection between chromatin organization and cancer-associated gene misregulation.
Alistair B. Russell, PhD [Merck Fellow],
with his sponsor Jesse D. Bloom, PhD, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, is investigating the mechanisms by which cells recognize influenza infection. Yearly influenza epidemics present an ongoing medical challenge, and those suffering from cancer are at a potentially increased risk of complication following infection. By identifying both cell-to-cell differences in the response to viral infection and virus-to-virus differences in the capacity to evade the host response, he hopes to develop a better understanding of the kinetics of initial infection and disease progression in individuals.
Joseph D. Schonhoft, PhD [Merck Fellow],
with his sponsor Jeffery W. Kelly, PhD, at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, aims to understand how immune cells abnormally proliferate and secrete a pathogenic variety of antibody proteins that cause organ and tissue damage, most notably in the heart and kidneys, during diseases such as amyloidosis and within a subset of multiple myelomas. His research will explain why particular antibody molecules are toxic while others are completely benign. This information may be used to develop new diagnostic probes for the early detection of these molecules, which could greatly improve the effectiveness of current clinical treatments.
Justin L. Sparks, PhD,
with his sponsor Johannes C. Walter, PhD, at Harvard Medical School, Boston, focuses on a protein complex called the eukaryotic replisome, which replicates cellular DNA during cell division. He is studying how the replisome handles persistent bulky DNA lesions that block the progression of the replicative helicase enzyme and how cells repair covalent DNA-protein cross-links (DPCs). DPCs are generated by formaldehyde and other environmental mutagens and are almost certainly important for cancer etiology. Genome instability is a hallmark of all cancers, and mechanisms that either prevent or enhance this instability have many implications for cancer biology.
Neil T. Umbreit, PhD [HHMI Fellow],
with his sponsor David S. Pellman, MD, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, studies chromosome segregation, the process by which the genetic information on chromosomes is duplicated and the copies are segregated equally into two new cells. Cancer cell proliferation is marked by frequent errors in chromosome segregation, resulting in abnormal genetic content. He is investigating one type of chromosome segregation error, called a "chromosome bridge," a major mechanism through which genetic information can be amplified and/or rearranged to distort gene function in cancer cells. When these genetic rearrangements include oncogenes and growth factor genes, they can result in acquired drug resistance, unrestrained cell proliferation, and metastasis.
Swathi Yadlapalli, PhD [HHMI Fellow],
with her sponsors Orie T. Shafer, PhD, and Edgar Meyhofer, PhD, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, aims to elucidate the neural and molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of metabolism. Living organisms have evolved neural mechanisms involving circadian clocks to synchronize their physiology, metabolism and behavior with the external environment. Disruption of these clocks is associated with increased incidence of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. She has developed an ultra-sensitive calorimeter that allows for precise quantification of metabolic activity, which she will use to investigate the circadian regulation of metabolism. These studies will provide novel insights into how networks of circadian clock neurons orchestrate daily changes in metabolism, and may be applied to the development of novel treatments for cancers and metabolic disorders.

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DAMON RUNYON CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATION

To accelerate breakthroughs, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides today's best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative research. The Foundation has gained worldwide prominence in cancer research by identifying outstanding researchers and physician-scientists. Twelve scientists supported by the Foundation have received the Nobel Prize, and others are heads of cancer centers and leaders of renowned research programs. Each of its award programs is extremely competitive, with less than 10% of applications funded. Since its founding in 1946, Damon Runyon has invested nearly $294 million and funded nearly 3,500 young scientists. This year, it will commit over $14 million in new awards to brilliant young investigators.

100% of all donations to the Foundation are used to support scientific research.  Its administrative and fundraising costs are paid from its Damon Runyon Broadway Tickets Service and endowment.

For more information visit www.damonrunyon.org

CONTACT
Yung S. Lie, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
yung.lie@damonrunyon.org
212.455.0521

 

Damon Runyon, Sohn Conference Foundations Name 4 New Pediatric Cancer Research Fellows

Exceptional young scientists receive prestigious awards to tackle cancers in children and young adults

 

New York, NY (July 9, 2015) - The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has named four outstanding young scientists as recipients of the prestigious Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Research Fellowship Award, committing nearly $875,000 to help address a critical shortage of funding for pediatric cancer research.

The Fellowship Award provides funding to basic scientists and clinicians who conduct research with the potential to significantly impact the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of one or more pediatric cancers. Each recipient receives a four-year award ($248,000 for physician-scientists, $208,000 for basic scientists). Since 2012, this award has supported fourteen innovative pediatric cancer researchers.  

The Sohn Conference Foundation, dedicated to curing pediatric cancers, announced in 2012 that it was granting $1.5 million to the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the leading charity supporting innovative young cancer researchers, to establish the award. The award program continues to receive funding and recognition within the philanthropic community. Lead funding for the 2015 class of awardees was generously provided by the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance.

2015 Damon Runyon-Sohn Fellows:


Ozlem Aksoy, PhD,
with her sponsor Davide Ruggero, PhD, at the University of California, San Francisco, is establishing a human stem-cell based model of medulloblastoma brain tumors that can be rapidly manipulated, allowing insights into how genetic mutation contributes to medulloblastoma tumorigenesis and how these mutations cooperate in tumor formation. She will study the highest-risk subtype of medulloblastoma, with the goal of understanding the possible role of translational control in this cancer. She will test both novel and existing mTOR inhibitors as a potential therapeutic strategy for patients.

Amanda L. Balboni, PhD, with her sponsor Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, studies Ewing sarcoma, a rare pediatric solid tumor containing a characteristic chromosomal translocation that fuses the EWSR1 gene to the FLI1 gene. The resulting EWS/FLI fusion protein initiates an oncogenic gene expression program, thus promoting tumorigenesis. EWS/FLI represents an attractive tumor-specific therapeutic target; however, it has been difficult to pharmacologically inhibit. Her work will focus on elucidating a novel approach to selectively target EWS/FLI by utilizing a small-molecule inhibitor against the transcriptional regulator proteins CDK12/13. This research will contribute to our understanding of Ewing sarcoma cell biology and has important clinical implications for other cancers driven by similar transcription factor fusion proteins.

Stacy L. Cooper, MD, with her sponsor Alan D. Friedman, MD, at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, focuses on developing novel therapies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which has an approximately 50% mortality rate. Her work focuses on C/EBP alpha, a protein that is decreased in more than half of all AML patients. By determining how the production of this protein is regulated, she aims to understand the mechanisms for its reduction in leukemia and to develop strategies to target C/EBPalpha as a novel therapy for AML.

Zhipeng Lu, PhD [Layton Family Fellow of the Damon Runyon-Sohn Foundation Pediatric Cancer Fellowship Award], with his sponsor Howard Y. Chang, MD, PhD, at Stanford University, Stanford, is developing new methods for direct analyses of RNA structures and RNA-RNA interactions in living cells, which remain a major technical challenge. RNA helicases and RNA binding proteins interact with and remodel RNA structures to coordinate all aspects of RNA metabolism, and mutations in these proteins lead to many cancers such as medulloblastoma brain tumors. Using these novel methods, his goal is to dissect the mechanisms of RNA helicases and RNA binding proteins in regulating RNA metabolism and to identify druggable targets for cancer treatment. 

"These are some of the best young scientists working in pediatric research today, and they're at a critical juncture in their careers," says William Carroll, MD, chair of the Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellowship Committee and Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology at New York University Langone Medical Center. "They need our financial support, and we need their brilliant minds focused on curing childhood cancers. That is why this award is so important."

Because cancer occurs less frequently in children and young adults than in the adult population, pediatric cancer research does not receive significant funding from either the National Cancer Institute (only four percent of its budget) or the biopharmaceutical industry. As a result, there have been limited advances in recent years in treating these cancers, and fewer scientists are working in this field.

“I am inspired by Damon Runyon’s commitment to supporting excellent young scientists who are dedicating themselves to cancer research,” says Evan Sohn of the Sohn Conference Foundation. “Our Foundation is investing in this unique fellowship because it has the potential to change how cancer care is provided to children and young adults.”

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About The Sohn Conference Foundation

The Foundation was established in memory of Ira Sohn, a Wall Street professional whose life was cut short when he passed away from cancer. For more than fifteen years, the Foundation has raised funds for pediatric cancer research through its highly respected annual investment conference, the Sohn Investment Conference, which features many of Wall Street's best and most successful investors. Thanks to the dedication of the conference founders, esteemed speakers, volunteers, and generous donors, the Foundation has invested more than $60 million in innovative research and institutions at the forefront of cancer research and pediatric care. For more information, visit http://www.sohnconference.org/.

About the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance

The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance was formed in 2013 through a $25 million commitment by Bill and Karen Ackman and The Pershing Square Foundation, which partnered with The Sohn Conference Foundation. The Alliance is dedicated to playing a catalytic role in accelerating cures for cancer by supporting innovative cancer research and by facilitating collaborations between academia and industry. Annually, the Alliance awards The Pershing Square Sohn Prize to young New York based scientists who are engaged in cutting-edge cancer research. For more information, visit http://psscra.org/.

About the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

To accelerate breakthroughs, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides today's best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative research. Twelve scientists supported by the Foundation have received the Nobel Prize, seven have received National Medals of Science, and 68 have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the science "Hall of Fame."  

Since its founding in 1946, Damon Runyon has invested nearly $294 million and funded nearly 3,500 young scientists. 100% of all donations to the Foundation are used to support cutting-edge scientific research. Its administrative and fundraising costs are paid from Damon Runyon Broadway Tickets and its endowment. For more information, visit http://www.damonrunyon.org.  

CONTACTS

Yung S. Lie, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
yung.lie@damonrunyon.org
212.455.0521

Jeremy Robinson-Leon
Media Contact
The Sohn Conference Foundation
jrobinsonleon@groupgordon.com
212.784.5702

Jenny Tartikoff
Media Contact
Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance
jtartikoff@Rubenstein.com
212.843.8496

July 1, 2015 > Improved survival rate for patients with low-grade glioma brain cancers

Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’04-’06), and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, used clinical data collected over the past decade through a U.S. cancer registry to demonstrate that the survival of adult patients with low-grade glioma brain cancer has significantly improved. Survival has increased from 44 months (in 1999) to 57 months (in 2010). The findings were published in the journal Neuro-Oncology: Clinical Practice.

Click here for more.

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Announces First Recipients of New Physician-Scientist Award

Grants totaling nearly $1.4M give three physician-scientists resources to pursue cancer research


New York, NY (June 30, 2015) – Physician-scientists are crucial to moving scientific discoveries from the lab to patients, but their numbers have been dwindling just when they are needed most, particularly in cancer research, as the number of cancer cases is projected to increase by 45 percent in the next fifteen years and elevate cancer to the leading cause of death in America.

“Physician-scientists have the unique capacity to blend their insights from treating patients and working in the laboratory in a way that enables and accelerates medical advances,” said Yung S. Lie, PhD, Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. “If the present shortage of physician-scientists continues, we risk a situation in which some major laboratory research discoveries may not reach patients at all, and that would represent a true crisis in cancer research.” 

To help increase the number of physician-scientists, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (Damon Runyon) has created a new award, the Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award, which provides physicians who have earned an MD degree and completed clinical specialty fellowship training the opportunity to gain the research skills and experience they need to become leaders in translational and clinical research.

Damon Runyon seeks to address the financial disincentives that often deter physicians from pursuing a research career by providing considerably higher funding than most research fellowships—$100,000 in the first year, with increases of $10,000 per year over the next three years. It will also retire up to $100,000 of any medical school debt still owed by an award recipient. (The average medical school debt is now more than $150,000.)

Damon Runyon announced that three scientists with novel approaches to fighting cancer have been named the 2015 recipients of the Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award. The awardees were selected through a highly competitive and rigorous process by a scientific committee comprised of leading cancer researchers who are themselves physician-scientists. Only those scientists showing exceptional promise and a passion for finding new cures for cancer were selected to receive the award.

“Too often, medical students and recent graduates discover their passion for research when it is too late to join an MD-PhD program or otherwise acquire the experience they need to pursue a research career,” said Lorraine W. Egan, President and CEO of Damon Runyon. “Physicians are essential to cancer research but often lack the opportunity and grant support needed to become researchers. We felt it was important to create that opportunity and hope that other organizations will use this award as a model.”

The Physician-Scientist Training Award was established thanks to the generosity of Damon Runyon Board members Leon Cooperman and Michael Gordon.

2015 Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award Recipients:


Pavan Bachireddy, MD
with Mentor Catherine J. Wu, MD, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

Patients with relapsed blood cancers after allogeneic stem cell transplant are often treated with donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI), a type of immunotherapy that boosts the anti-tumor response and aims to induce cancer remission. The success of DLI varies from patient to patient. Dr. Bachireddy aims to investigate the determinants of DLI success and failure by studying the leukemic and immune cells during response to immunotherapy. Careful study of successful anti-tumor immune responses may reveal insights into tumor-immune interactions that may be relevant to predicting patient response to novel immunotherapies in other tumors.

Carolyn C. Jackson, MD
with Mentor Jean-Laurent Casanova, MD, PhD, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York

Kaposi sarcoma (KS), a potentially fatal cancer especially in immunodeficient individuals, is caused by human herpes virus-8 (HHV-8), a carcinogenic agent declared by the World Health Organization. Human genetic variability may account for the variability in the clinical outcome of HHV-8 infection. Dr. Jackson aims to discover novel genetic alterations underlying childhood KS and to understand how specific gene defects drive KS in conjunction with HHV-8. The genetic study of KS in childhood may provide new insights into the pathogenesis of KS, and aid in developing potential future therapeutics. It will also benefit children at risk of KS in regions of the world where the prevalence of HHV-8 is high.

Loretta S. Li, MD
with Mentor David Weinstock, MD, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

Approximately 10-15% of pediatric and adult patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) have a high-risk form of the disease characterized by rearrangements of a gene called CRLF2. Alterations of this gene result in increased expression of the CRLF2 protein and promote leukemia development. When treated with conventional chemotherapy, patients with CRLF2 gene alterations do poorly. Their leukemias are dependent on an enzyme called JAK2 for survival, yet no targeted therapies with proven efficacy are currently available. Dr. Li has unique access to a new drug that turns off JAK2 enzyme activity, potently kills B-ALL cells, and improves overall survival in mice with JAK2-dependent B-ALL. Treatment with this drug alone is not curative, however, and all mice eventually succumb to progressive leukemia. She will study how leukemia becomes resistant to JAK2 inhibitors. Her goal is to identify combinations of agents that can prevent or overcome resistance to a single therapy and also guide the development of new JAK2 inhibitors for patients.

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DAMON RUNYON CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATION

To accelerate breakthroughs, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides today's best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative research. The Foundation has gained worldwide prominence in cancer research by identifying outstanding researchers and physician-scientists. Twelve scientists supported by the Foundation have received the Nobel Prize, and others are heads of cancer centers and leaders of renowned research programs. Each of its award programs is extremely competitive, with less than 10% of applications funded. Since its founding in 1946, the Foundation has invested $294 million and funded more than 3,500 young scientists. This year it will commit almost $15 million in new awards to brilliant young investigators.

100% of all donations to the Foundation are used to support scientific research. Its administrative and fundraising costs are paid from its Damon Runyon Broadway Tickets Service and endowment.

CONTACT
Yung S. Lie, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
yung.lie@damonrunyon.org
212.455.0521

 

May 22, 2015 > New chemical technology developed to degrade cancer proteins in the cell

Dennis L. Buckley, PhD (Damon Runyon Merck Fellow ’14-’18), James E. Bradner, MD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’11-’13), and colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, reported the development of a new strategy that uses tumor cells’ own machinery to disintegrate and dispose of proteins that drive cancer growth. When tested in laboratory samples of leukemia cells and in animal models of the disease, the approach caused cancer cells to die much more quickly than with conventional targeted therapies. This chemical technology may offer a way to improve many cancer drug molecules, develop new inhibitors of “undruggable” proteins and overcome drug resistance. This study was published in the journal Science.

Click here for more.

2015 Annual Breakfast Honoring Dmitri Stockton Raises $1.5 Million

New York, NY (May 5, 2015) - The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation honored Dmitri Stockton, President and CEO of GE Asset Management, at its 2015 Annual Breakfast, held on Tuesday morning at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. The Breakfast raised $1.5 million to support the nation’s best and brightest cancer researchers, fostering the talent capable of revolutionizing the prevention, detection, and treatment of all forms of cancer.

Alan M. Leventhal, Chairman of the Damon Runyon Board, welcomed attendees by noting the scope and ambition of Damon Runyon scientists, saying, “There’s nobody who does what Damon Runyon does in the quest to cure cancer. We don’t worry about one cancer, we worry about them all.”

Two exceptional Damon Runyon scientists illustrated Damon Runyon’s wide range of focus with research updates: Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellow Angela J. Waanders, MD, of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, spoke about her efforts to develop more effective, less toxic treatments for childhood glioma brain tumors, and Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator Moritz F. Kircher, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, walked attendees through his development of a precision tool that detects and enables the destruction of single cancer cells during surgery.

The event’s keynote speaker was John Elway, former NFL star and current Denver Broncos General Manager. Elway spoke emotionally about losing his twin sister to lung cancer 14 years ago. “Cancer is the ultimate competitor,” he said, exhorting those listening to commit as much support as possible to the Damon Runyon scientists who have dedicated their careers to cancer research. “This foundation has established a roster that reads like an All-Pro team. They are making a difference.”

The morning's honoree, Dmitri Stockton, was introduced by Leon G. Cooperman, who is the Chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors and a current Damon Runyon Board of Directors member.

Stockton shared cancer's impact on his friends and family and expressed great hope for the future. Gesturing to the Damon Runyon scientists in attendance, he said, “I've met these scientists and I can tell you, they’re nothing short of incredible. These are some of the minds who have dedicated themselves to fighting cancer. The impact they’re going to have in the future is just phenomenal. I want you to remember the stories here today and keep up with the fight by funding these scientists."

DAMON RUNYON CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATION

To accelerate breakthroughs, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides today’s best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative research. The Foundation has gained worldwide prominence in cancer research by identifying outstanding researchers and physician-scientists. Twelve scientists supported by the Foundation have received the Nobel Prize, seven others have received National Medals of Science, and 68 have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Since its founding in 1946, Damon Runyon has invested nearly $294 million and funded nearly 3,500 young scientists. One hundred percent of all donations to the Foundation are used to support cutting-edge scientific research. Its administrative and fundraising costs are paid from its Damon Runyon Broadway Tickets and endowment.


CONTACT

Kim Kubert
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
212.455.0501
kim.kubert@damonrunyon.org 

May 7, 2015 > Pershing Square Sohn Prizes for Young Investigators in Cancer Research

The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance has announced the winners of the 2015 Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research. The annual prize aims to catalyze collaboration among young investigators, academics, nonprofits, investors, and the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. The prize-winners will each receive funding for up to three years. Three of the six awards were granted to Damon Runyon scientists:

Arvin C. Dar, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’14-’16), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York
Moritz F. Kircher, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’14-’16), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York
Christine Mayr, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’13-’15), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York

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Runyon 5K—Run/Walk for Cancer Research

Runyon 5K For Cancer Research at Yankee StadiumAfter five years of summer fun at Yankee Stadium, the Runyon 5K is returning to its November roots in 2015! Mark your calendar: the seventh annual Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium will be held on Sunday, November 15. Thousands of baseball fans, runners, walkers, cancer survivors, and their friends and family will gather at Yankee Stadium to raise funds for cancer research. One of New York's most unique summer events, the Runyon 5K is the only charitable run/walk that uses the iconic Stadium as its course. As always, 100% of donations raised at the Runyon 5K will directly support the innovative young scientists funded by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. Since inception, the event has raised more than $3.5 million. 


If you would like to be added to our email list to receive news and updates about the 2015 Runyon 5K, please sign up for our Runyon 5K Email Alert.

See photos from the 2014 Runyon 5K.

See videos on Youtube from the 2014 Runyon 5K.

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