Damon Runyon News

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.


July 5, 2017

Catherine J.Wu, MD (Current Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Mentor and Clinical Investigator '07-'12) of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, has led one of the first studies that demonstrates the potential of personalized cancer vaccines. The study focused on six people with advanced melanoma, a type of skin cancer. The participants had surgery to remove their tumors, but about half of all such patients face a recurrence of cancer.

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.


June 1, 2017

Evan Walsh is an agent of the William Raveis Real Estate Company. In two short years he went from raising funds for the Raveis Ride + Walk to support cancer research, to becoming a patient himself with stage three muscle-invasive bladder cancer, to a cancer survivor. Evan delivered the following speech at a conference of fellow William Raveis agents.


Hello everyone. My name is Evan Walsh of The Walsh Team, and I am an agent in the Wellesley Office.


Every year thousands of people across the country shave their heads for charity in support of people battling cancer. Unfortunately, that is not why I stand here, bald, today. Three months ago I was diagnosed with stage three muscle-invasive bladder cancer. I have just completed a six week cycle of chemotherapy and on April 28th I will be going under the knife for robotic surgery, where they will remove my bladder and make me a beautiful new one using a section of my small intestines.


May 26, 2017

Last monthAaron D. Viny, MD, a Damon Runyon-William Raveis Charitable Fund Fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center participated in the March for Science in New York City. Below he explains his unique motivation for marching, and why he read every word of President Trump’s Affordable Healthcare Act.


Last month my wife and I took our 21-month-old daughter to the March for Science.  Irrespective of the tidal wave of political changes that have happened in the last 6 months, as parents, we found ourselves inspired by a Sarah Silverman stand-up comedy routine we saw several years ago. 


“Don’t tell girls they can be anything they want when they grow up, because it would never have occurred to them that they couldn’t.  It’s like saying, ‘Hey when you get in the shower I’m NOT going to read your diary.’ ‘Wait, are you going to read my diary?’ ‘No!  I said I’m not going to read your diary.  Now go take a shower!”


May 23, 2017

To make breakthroughs against cancer, we need scientists willing to break the mold and push science in new directions.  That is the goal of our Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award.  We seek the top emerging talent in cancer research and provide seed funding for their new ideas.


In 2015, we selected a new Innovator at UC Berkeley, Roberto Zoncu, followed the next year by one at UCSF, Rushika Perera.  Little did we know that they were married to each other. As they tell it, rather than Match.com, they had “bench.com.”  They met working side-by-side at a laboratory bench at Yale University, spent some time as a bi-coastal couple, and now are building their own labs across the bay from each other.


May 8, 2017

Damon Runyon Fellow Elise C. Jeffery, PhD, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a dinner with prospective donors at the beautiful new home of Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation board member Cindy Sulzberger in West Palm Beach, Florida. Cindy invited several of her friends to the gathering, and they were all eager to hear about the work of Damon Runyon scientists, and the goals of the foundation. As I described my work to the group during dinner, I was impressed by their interest in cancer research. They had a number of good questions such as, “Will we ever find a silver bullet cure?” and “How much progress could be made if we spent an amount equal to the defense budget on cancer research?” Although these questions have no easy answer, they reflect the thoughts of those in the community who have been affected by this disease. ​


May 8, 2017

Three Damon Runyon scientists received 2017 Pershing Square Sohn Prizes for Young Investigators in Cancer Research. Recipients receive $200,000 per year for up to three years and opportunities to present their work to scientific and business audiences, helping to bridge the gap between the academic and business communities. This year, three of the six awards were granted to Damon Runyon scientists:  


Yimon Aye, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’09 – ’12), Weil Cornell Medicine, New York


Daniel A. Heller, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘10 – ’12), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York


Eirini P. Papapetrou, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’14 – ’17), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York


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