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March 3, 2016

Medical innovators from Celgene, Lilly, Genentech, Merck, Pfizer, and Takeda share promise of disruptive science and life-enhancing medicines that are accelerating the potential for cancer cures

Summit, NJ (March 3, 2016) - Today, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation held the fifth annual Accelerating Cancer Cures Research Symposium. The yearly meeting is designed to encourage collaboration between cancer researchers in industry and their counterparts in academia in order to overcome many of the issues that currently impede progress against cancer. Hosted by Celgene, the meeting included academic researchers from top universities and research institutions as well as scientists from Celgene, Eli Lilly and Company, Genentech, Merck, Pfizer, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Co. 

Accelerating Cancer Cures is a unique collaboration between Damon Runyon, a prestigious cancer charity that supports pioneering early career cancer researchers, and leading biopharmaceutical companies. The goal of this multi-million dollar initiative is to rebuild the ranks of specially trained physician-scientists who conduct both the innovative laboratory research necessary to identify new therapeutics and the clinical trials to bring these new treatments to patients. By collaborating on this initiative, the companies involved demonstrate their shared commitment to driving the next generation of breakthroughs in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. 

Over the past two decades, innovative cancer treatments have helped increase survival rates and improved quality of life, allowing cancer patients to spend more time with family and loved ones.

  • The cancer death rate has fallen by 23% since its peak in 1991, in large part due to innovative cancer medicines.

  • Survival is increasing dramatically for many forms of cancer. The five year survival rate has increased 21% for breast cancer; 50% for prostate cancer; 36% for colon cancer; and 54% for lung cancer since 1975.

  • The five year survival rate for patients with leukemia has nearly tripled since the early 1990s.

  • For children, the five year relative survival rate increased from 58% in the mid?1970s to 83% today due to new and improved treatments.

Richard B. Gaynor, MD, Senior Vice President of Global Development/Medical Affairs for Lilly Oncology, Damon Runyon Board member, and Chair of Accelerating Cancer Cures, opened the meeting by welcoming its attendees and stressing the urgency of collaboration between academia and industry at this crucial moment in cancer research. Chas Bountra, PhD, Chief Scientist (Structural Genomics Consortium), Professor of Translational Medicine (Department of Clinical Medicine), of the University of Oxford, delivered a keynote address about how innovative collaborations can catalyze the process of cancer drug discovery. Participants also heard research presentations from selected Damon Runyon scientists and learned from industry panel discussions on bridging the gap between academia and industry. Lorraine Egan, President and CEO of Damon Runyon, and Robert J. Hugin, Executive Chairman of Celgene Corporation, provided opening remarks.

"With more than 200 forms of cancers, we are encouraged that innovative industry leaders have come together to brainstorm models that will advance the development of new treatments for cancer patients," said Ms. Egan. "Through Accelerating Cancer Cures, we are ensuring that the best young physician-scientists are a part of this program and can continue to be the critical link between the research lab and the patients."

"Celgene is honored to be a part of Accelerating Cancer Cures, which provides the type of collaboration needed to accelerate translational research progress that will result in improved treatment options for cancer patients," said Mr. Hugin. "There are over 3,000 compounds in development for cancer around the world. Of those, about 80 percent have the potential to be first?in?class treatments. With continued support for disruptive science and medical innovation, we foresee accomplishing in cancer what has been achieved against other major public health problems, such as HIV/AIDS, in which scientific advances yielded major gains for patients, healthcare and the economy."

Dr. Gaynor added, "This is an exciting time in cancer research with major discoveries in both genetics and immunology leading to innovative cancer therapies. Today we heard presentations from young investigators who are at the forefront of these discoveries bringing novel insights from the laboratory into the clinic. The efforts of the Damon Runyon Foundation and programs like Accelerating Cancer Cures are helping to make the hope of new cancer therapies a reality."

Scientists from the nation's leading research institutions, including University of California at Berkeley, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Boston Children's Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Stanford University School of Medicine attended the symposium to hear presentations on a diverse range of promising research, from novel immunotherapy approaches against cancer to defining new Achilles' heels for all cancer types, and to brainstorm about creative approaches to speed new treatments to cancer patients.


About Accelerating Cancer Cures

Accelerating Cancer Cures addresses the critical shortage of clinical researchers working on breakthroughs in cancer treatments and cures. Under the leadership of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and with the support of industry and academia, this project fosters the talent desperately needed to accelerate breakthroughs in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. 

Accelerating Cancer Cures is supported by some of the world's leading companies including: Eli Lilly and Company, Celgene, Genentech, Merck, Pfizer, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Co. For more information, visit

About the Foundation

To accelerate breakthroughs, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides today's best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative cancer research. The Foundation supports emerging leaders who have great potential to achieve breakthroughs in how we diagnose, treat and prevent cancer. Since its founding in 1946, the Foundation has invested over $300 million and funded more than 3,500 young scientists. 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