Damon Runyon Blog

October 23, 2018

Approximately 450 supporters took part in Runyon Up, the first fundraising stair climb held at the newly opened Salesforce Tower in San Francisco on October 21. Climbers faced a unique vertical challenge in the 61-story building, the tallest in San Francisco, and were rewarded with breathtaking views from the top.


October 3, 2018

By Yung S. Lie, PhD, Incoming President and Chief Executive Officer of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation


Damon Runyon congratulates the recipients of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, for their discovery that certain proteins act as “brakes” on the immune system, limiting its ability to attack cancer cells. Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have since been developed to take these brakes off, freeing the immune cells to fight cancer and save countless lives. The field of checkpoint inhibition, as well as the entire field of immunotherapy (harnessing the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells), has exponentially grown in importance due to the contributions of a community of many scientists. We are proud to have supported several Damon Runyon scientists, who have made critical discoveries that have helped bring this new class of drugs to patients.  


August 31, 2018

To mark Damon Runyon’s upcoming 75th Anniversary in 2021, Connie and Bob Lurie have established a $1 million “Connie and Robert Lurie Breakthrough Challenge Fund” to generate new support for Damon Runyon scientists working at Stanford, UCSF, UC Berkeley, the Gladstone Institute and UC Santa Cruz. Connie and Bob, and the entire Lurie family, are a Bay Area institution. Many know them as leaders in the world of commercial real estate, for their generous philanthropy, or for saving the Giants from moving to Toronto by purchasing the team in 1976. What you might not know is how committed they are to finding cures for cancer and supporting new generations of breakthrough scientists in the Bay Area. They are now partnering with Damon Runyon to build support for our many Bay Area researchers.


August 20, 2018

By William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, Damon Runyon Board Member and Vice Chair of Scientific Programs, the Sidney Farber Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.


As a cancer researcher, I am frequently asked when the disease will be cured. In truth, I ask myself the same question every day. In the 1980s, I was a physician, and I saw at first hand how cancer devastated my patients and their families. In the 1990s, I became a laboratory-based researcher, convinced that we needed a much deeper understanding of cancer if we were to develop better treatments. In 2003, my wife, a celebrated breast cancer surgeon, underwent surgery, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy for an early stage breast cancer that she had self-diagnosed between two operating room cases. Although she survived, her chemotherapy caused neurological toxicity that prevented her from returning to the profession she loved. In 2010, she developed a malignant brain tumour, unrelated to her breast cancer. Despite surgery, state-of-the-art radiotherapy and other medical interventions, it killed her five years later. I share the frustration that progress against cancer has not come faster, especially given the resources that have been marshalled against it for decades.


August 9, 2018

By Damon Runyon-Dale F. Frey Scientist Shruti Naik, PhD


“Sorry, I have to take this call… it’s my campaign manager” are not words one expects to hear from a scientist. But Valerie Horsley, PhD, is redefining what it means to be a scientist. Valerie, a tenured professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale University and a former Damon Runyon Fellow (’04-’07), decided that it was time she stepped up. She recently secured a bid from the Hamden district of Connecticut to run for the upcoming democratic primary election, which will be held next week on August 14th. She is not alone--greater numbers of scientists are finding themselves at the crossroads between science and politics. In fact, the largest number of scientists in history are running for office now.


July 13, 2018

by Lorraine Egan, President and CEO of Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation 


I have been obsessed with the story of the Thailand cave rescue. It spoke to me on so many levels, especially in this time of political animus, global conflict, and the constant barrage of dire news reports. The rescue was the ultimate story of humanity: people from across the globe working together with passion and relentlessness, undertaking enormous technical and logistical challenges, and refusing to give up on the goal of saving lives. Then it struck me how similar this story is to the work of cancer researchers around the globe. They, too are committed to saving lives. 


April 30, 2018

“Every time we visit a doctor today, we are benefiting from tools developed by countless scientists,” by Lorraine Egan, President and CEO of Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation


March 21, 2018

Who better to understand the urgent needs of cancer patients for new treatments and push that research in the lab? Physician-scientists, who are experts in both front-line care and cutting-edge science. Yet, fewer MDs are going into research because the career path is challenging and the remuneration lower than clinical practice.  The Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award seeks to reverse that trend by recruiting newly-minted MDs into research careers and providing them with the mentorship and funding they need to succeed, including help repaying medical school loans.


February 4, 2018

Our lives and the lives of future generations depend on it. Today is World Cancer Day. A day to reflect on the good news about progress against cancer and the challenges that lie ahead.


The good news is that, thanks to cancer research being conducted across the globe, real progress is being made in cancer prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. Cancer deaths in the U.S. have dropped 26% from 1991 to 2015, saving nearly 3 million lives. The pace of development of new therapies is accelerating rapidly thanks to new understanding of what causes and drives cancers.  The challenge is that the world cancer burden is expanding rapidly due to the growth and aging of the population.


January 19, 2018

When young scientists earn a Damon Runyon award, they join one of science’s most prestigious and collaborative communities, a community dedicated to fostering the next generation of breakthrough cancer researchers.  Former Damon Runyon fellow in the 1980s, Jim Wells, PhD, Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF and a member of our Board of Directors has mentored seven Damon Runyon Fellows, all of whom have gone on to highly successful careers in biomedical research.


We recently sat down with Jim to discuss how mentorship shaped his own career and why he continues to bring Damon Runyon fellows into his lab.


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