Damon Runyon Blog

October 30, 2017

Damon Runyon:

You and your wife Laura Grant Van Camp have supported three DR Innovators through Nadia’s Gift Foundation. Why is that important to you?


Peter Van Camp:

The opportunity to support Damon Runyon Innovators is important to me and my family as a way to honor the memory of my first wife, Nadia, who succumbed to cancer in 2010.  Nadia and I were married for 23 wonderful years. Unfortunately, as has become all too common for too many women, Nadia was diagnosed with breast cancer, and we fought her illness together for eight years.  There were some good times during those eight years, and some very brave times on Nadia’s part.  Although we lost Nadia’s battle, finding a cure to the cancer that would ultimately claim her became a meaningful purpose for us, and remains meaningful to me today.


October 26, 2017

GEORGE HILL, MD, became a Damon Runyon Fellow in the 1950’s, and recently reconnected with us at our 2017 Annual Breakfast. He was amazed to learn about the breadth of our innovative research projects.


Asked what advice he might give today’s Damon Runyon Fellows, he said, “The most important thing is to find a really, really good mentor. Science is done as a team; you can’t do it alone. You’ve got to find the best person who will make you work hard. It’s the only way to do it.”


George credits an inquisitive mind for leading him down a path that would take him from the farmlands of Iowa to Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and would ultimately earn him a Damon Runyon Fellowship in 1958, which helped launch a prolific career in oncology.


September 6, 2017

We recently ended our 2017 Fiscal Year. It was an exceptional year in many respects, especially as it was our 70th Anniversary. We celebrated this milestone at our annual breakfast benefit by recognizing the scientists who have gotten us to a point in time where progress in cancer research is accelerating rapidly and more new therapies are being approved for patients.


Click here to see our report on our progress over the past 70 years. It highlights Damon Runyon scientists who:


August 14, 2017

They met on the dance floor at a party thrown by postdoctoral students from each of their labs at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and reconnected a couple months later at a genetics lecture. "And then she finally gave me her phone number!" says Steve.


August 2, 2017

By Michael Caligiuri, MD, President of the American Association for Cancer Research


It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the kind of strong national commitment that exists today to support medical research.


Of course, this enthusiasm is more than justified because of the large number of unprecedented research opportunities that are at the ready to propel us toward defeating cancer and the numerous other diseases that afflict so many Americans.


July 26, 2017

By Nadia Halim, Damon Runyon Science Writer


After mounting excitement in the last five years over a revolutionary approach to cancer therapy, patients are one step closer to seeing CAR T immunotherapy approved by the FDA for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of childhood cancer. The FDA’s 10-member advisory panel unanimously recommended Novartis Pharmaceuticals' experimental therapy (CTL019) be approved for use in children and young adults whose leukemia doesn't respond to traditional treatments — approximately 600 patients per year in this country.


July 20, 2017

Fourteen years ago the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation approved an application for a Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator Award by a young researcher named Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Jedd wanted to study an emerging field of research called immunotherapy. At the time, the field was in its infancy and had as many supporters as skeptics. But Damon Runyon’s support of Jedd proved prescient, and he became a leader in the study and application of immunotherapy to his field of melanoma research and treatment.


July 6, 2017

As a high school freshman, Peter Jauschnegg was something of a prodigy in varsity track & field.


But a day before his regional competition, the Maryland native suffered a seizure in his home that led to a diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He had a tumor on the base of his skull, involving critical blood vessels and exerting pressure on his brain.


June 29, 2017

Marcela V. Maus, MD, PhD is a Damon Runyon Innovator at Massachusetts General Hospital and a featured speaker at our 2017 Annual Breakfast in New York earlier this month. Marcela has developed a way of engineering the body’s own immune T cells, so that they are re-directed to fight deadly brain tumors like glioblastoma. She began her remarks: “I want to introduce you to my favorite cell, the T cell. This is the cell I fell in love with before I even met my husband. It has these two amazing properties. It can kill, and it also has long-term memory. It has the potential to be curative, and it remembers what it’s seen before.”


June 23, 2017

Robyn Coles joined the Damon Runyon Board of Directors one year ago, and she’s more excited than ever about our approach to funding innovative cancer research.


Ms. Coles, you were elected to the Damon Runyon Board of Directors almost a year ago. How has your experience with us been so far?


Robyn Coles:  Damon Runyon is a real gem. The quality of scientists that the organization is able to identify for support is simply amazing. I have had the good fortune to follow the biotech industry since its infancy, studying it closely as an investor and out of fascination with the transformative impact it has.  Additionally, many of the scientists and CEOs in the life sciences have been longstanding family friends, and I have seen firsthand the impact scientists can have.  I am in awe that Damon Runyon has produced so many outstanding scientists, including 12 Nobel Laureates and countless Howard Hughes Investigators, whose science has contributed to the founding of dozens of biotech companies and ultimately life-saving medications.  This achievement has been accomplished on a fraction of the budget of other non-profit foundations.  It’s just truly impressive.