Damon Runyon News

December 15, 2016

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation was launched 70 years ago today, with a call over the radio to all Americans.  Damon Runyon, the beloved creator of the Guys & Dolls characters, had died from cancer.  His friend, Walter Winchell, the most famous radio personality of his day, went on air and asked every American to send him their dimes, nickels and pennies to help cure cancer.  They did, and we’ve been making groundbreaking strides against cancer ever since.

Famous celebrities joined in – Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Bob Hope, to name just a few.  So did Broadway theatres, which still today provide tickets to help underwrite the overhead costs of the Foundation, ensuring that 100% of donations go to researchers. 

The visionary mission of the Foundation was established and remains to this day – to identify the most brilliant and audacious young scientists and enable them to become the next breakthrough scientists. With 12 Nobel Laureates, 70 years of paradigm-sifting discoveries and countless lives saved, we continue to achieve Winchell’s vision.

Since 1946, thanks to supporters from across the nation, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has invested nearly $320 million in more than 3,550 of the most brilliant and talented cancer researchers in the nation.

Their discoveries include proving that cigarettes cause cancer, curing some of the first patients with chemotherapy, linking genetic mutations and cancer, and harnessing the immune system to attack cancer.  Their work cuts across all cancer types and has saved countless lives.

In the past few years thanks to your support, we have doubled our research funding and expanded our programs to ensure we have the right talent working to find cures.  We have developed innovative partnerships and continue to test novel approaches to funding the best researchers and the most groundbreaking research.

Our goal continues to be the end of suffering from cancer.  How soon will this be a reality and how?

To answer these questions, we asked our current Damon Runyon scientists to tell us how cancer will be prevented, diagnosed and treated differently in our lifetimes and our children’s.  We made it a contest, with the best submissions chosen for inclusion in our 70th Anniversary Annual Report.  These brilliant young scientists universally believe that cancer prevention and care will be transformed in the years ahead. 

We continue to need all Americans to stand behind, and support, the people who will make the next breakthroughs.  Think of yourselves as investors in the most important recruiting firm in the world – the one that finds the best new talent and funds their bold ideas against cancer.  Each young scientist we fund, currently over 200, has the potential to find the next cure.

Join with us today to continue this important work until we have conquered cancer. 


Many thanks,

Lorraine W. Egan

President & CEO