Damon Runyon News

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 27, 2018

Christine Mayr, MD, PhD, (Damon Runyon Innovator ’13-‘15), Omar Abdel-Wahab, MD (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ’13-’16), and colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, report new results that suggest malfunctions in messenger RNA (mRNA) processing may be driving chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). mRNAs carry the information encoded in DNA, which is then translated into proteins. Changes at both the DNA and mRNA level can result in malfunctioning proteins.

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. 


June 20, 2018

Matthew G. Vander Heiden MD, PhD (Fellowship Award Committee Member, Fellow ’06-’08, Innovator ’11-‘13) and colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MIT’s Koch Institute, Boston, have found a new reason pancreatic cancer patients lose weight. They observed in mouse models that tumors interfered with the pancreas’ ability to secrete enzymes that digest food. Unable to obtain enough nutrients from food, the mice entered starvation mode in which their bodies broke down fat to survive.

June 19, 2018

John Mendelsohn, MD (Damon Runyon Grantee ’72-’74), President Emeritus of MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, shared the 2018 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science with former Damon Runyon Sponsors Tony Hunter, PhD, at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, and Brian J. Druker, MD, at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, Portland. Dr. Mendelsohn led the development of a novel targeted therapy: the anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab (Erbitux®).

May 25, 2018

Researchers have long been aware that several viruses have an innate ability to kill cancer cells. Dmitriy Zamarin, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’13-’16) and Jedd D.

May 23, 2018

Five Damon Runyon alumni are among the 19 individuals named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators this week. These scientists were selected because they ask hard questions in uncharted territories of biology and have the potential to make breakthroughs that will benefit humanity. The appointment provides flexible funding of $8 million over a seven-year term for each scientist, enabling them to pursue provocative fundamental questions of critical importance to biomedical progress.

May 3, 2018

Maria Mihaylova, PhD (Former Damon Runyon Fellow ‘13-’16) of the Whitehead Institute and MIT’s Koch Institute, Cambridge, has found benefits of intermittent fasting beyond weight loss. The researchers discovered that fasting for 24 hours dramatically improves stem cells’ ability to regenerate in the intestines of aged and young mice. When an injury or infection occurs, stem cells are key to repairing damage. This finding may help patients who suffer from GI infections or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.