Damon Runyon Blog

December 17, 2018

Recently, the Damon Runyon Bay Area community gathered to celebrate the leadership and generosity of Connie and Bob Lurie and kick off the $1 million Lurie Breakthrough Challenge Fund. “Bob and I are delighted to continue the family tradition of supporting Damon Runyon and are thrilled to be a part of its Bay Area Committee,” Connie Lurie said.  “We hope the Challenge Fund will encourage new support by people who don't know about the work of the foundation and inspire them to get involved. Our goal is to put Damon Runyon on the map as a critically important supporter of the best young scientists in the Bay Area.”


December 12, 2018

Damon Runyon is committed to ensuring that early career scientists are paired with exceptional mentors so they are empowered to reach their highest potential. In fact, this positive experience has motivated many of our past award recipients to mentor new generations of scientists. We talked with two former Fellows about this important facet of life as a successful scientist: Abby Dernburg, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley, and Daniel Jarosz, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology and of Developmental Biology at Stanford University.


December 6, 2018

Damon Runyon scientists recently shared some of the cutting-edge cancer therapies that are saving lives at an event sponsored by the Young Presidents’ Organization in New York City. Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, discussed immunotherapy for melanoma—these drugs harness a patient’s immune system to find and kill cancer cells. Christopher E. Barbieri, MD, PhD, presented his research using therapy to specifically target the damage in prostrate cells that causes cancer. Today, these two approaches play a critical role in treating cancer and providing hope for many patients.


November 29, 2018

By Lorraine W. Egan, Outgoing President and CEO of Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation


Earlier this month, I attended my last meeting of the Damon Runyon Fellowship Award Committee before I retire. Damon Runyon conducts peer review at the highest level with the most respected scientific leaders reviewing the proposals of our applicants to decide if they merit funding.This meeting reaffirmed my strong belief that rigorous peer review works in choosing the best scientists to fund.


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. 


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