Damon Runyon News

February 15, 2023

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, in which a patient’s own immune T cells are genetically engineered to target their cancer cells, is one of the most promising advances in cancer therapy of the past decade. Having demonstrated the effectiveness of CAR T cells against a range of blood cancers, researchers now seek to design CAR T cells that can remain active in the body for longer and more efficiently eliminate tumors, with the goal of reducing costs and bringing CAR T therapy to more patients.

February 9, 2023

Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) are proteins found on the cell surface that facilitate interactions between cells. They are responsible for organizing and binding cells within tissue structures, creating circuits between neurons, and chaperoning immune cells to their destinations. Known as “cellular glue” and essential for organ function, CAMs are found throughout the body.

January 26, 2023

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has announced its newest class of Damon Runyon Fellows, 14 exceptional postdoctoral scientists conducting basic and translational cancer research in the laboratories of leading senior investigators. The prestigious, four-year Fellowship encourages the nation’s most promising young scientists to pursue careers in cancer research by providing them with independent funding ($260,000 total) to investigate cancer causes, mechanisms, therapies, and prevention. 

January 18, 2023

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has announced eight recipients of the 2023 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, established to support “high-risk, high-reward” ideas with the potential to significantly impact the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of cancer. Five extraordinary early-career researchers will receive initial grants of $400,000 over two years, and each will have the opportunity to receive two additional years of funding (for a potential total of $800,000).

January 13, 2023

Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), which accounts for about 15% of lung cancer diagnoses, is a relatively rare but aggressive disease. Most SCLC patients respond to chemotherapy at first, but nearly all experience disease recurrence, and at that point treatment options become scarce. Because SCLC is driven by mutations that knock out “tumor suppressor” genes, rather than activate cancer driver genes, it has been difficult to treat with targeted therapies.

December 19, 2022

Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are cancers that arise when a mutated blood stem cell begins to produce too many mature blood cells. A number of mutations can drive MPNs, and studies have demonstrated that different mutations result in different clinical outcomes.


December 12, 2022

Thanks to research by Damon Runyon scientists Melody Smith, MD, Elizabeth Hughes, PhD, and many others, the impact of gut bacteria on cancer immunotherapy response is becoming clearer. The presence of certain bacteria, such as Akkermansia muciniphila, in patient stool samples has been shown to correlate with better response to immunotherapies, suggesting that these microbes play a pivotal role in stimulating immune response.

December 8, 2022

Pancreatic cancers are notoriously resistant to treatment, in part because more than 90% of tumors are driven by mutations in the notorious KRAS gene. Once considered an “undruggable” cancer target, the first KRAS inhibitors are now making their way into clinics, but so far therapies have only been approved for the treatment of lung cancer.

November 14, 2022

We are delighted to announce that former Damon Runyon-Illini 4000 Fellow Daniel J. Blair, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, has been named a 2022 STAT Wunderkind. This award, granted annually to “the best early-career researchers in health and medicine in North America,” recognizes Dr. Blair’s exceptional promise in the field of synthetic chemistry.

October 26, 2022

In 2018, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) established the FNIH Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists to recognize “the outstanding contributions of early career clinician-scientists” whose research “translates basic scientific observations into new paradigm-shifting approaches for diagnosing, preventing, treating or curing disease.” 


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