Damon Runyon News

March 21, 2018

Who better to understand the urgent needs of cancer patients for new treatments and push that research in the lab? Physician-scientists, who are experts in both front-line care and cutting-edge science. Yet, fewer MDs are going into research because the career path is challenging and the remuneration lower than clinical practice.  The Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award seeks to reverse that trend by recruiting newly-minted MDs into research careers and providing them with the mentorship and funding they need to succeed, including help repaying medical school loans.


March 5, 2018

The most deadly process in cancer is metastasis, when tumor cells spread to distant organs. Key to preventing metastasis is understanding how these cells are able to move through the body. Carey K. Anders, MD (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ’12-’15) of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill, is shedding light on this process using genetic “snapshots” of both the primary tumor and the tumor after it has spread.

March 1, 2018

Two new studies confirm that pediatric and adult cancers have different mechanisms driving the disease. These are the first large-scale genomic comparisons, combing through the genomes of more than 1,700 tumors, from over 20 different kinds of childhood cancers. Daniela S. Gerhard, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’83-’85) of NCI, Bethesda, and Angela J. Waanders, MD, MPH (Dale F.

February 19, 2018

The big story in cancer research is the recent success of immunotherapy, which involves training and reengineering the immune system to kill cancers. The New York Times featured four women whose rare, aggressive ovarian cancers were unexpectedly cured with immunotherapy. This story resulted from research by Dmitriy Zamarin, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow '13-'16) of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, who studied these patients to understand why they responded to this treatment (nivolumab/Opdivo).

February 4, 2018

Our lives and the lives of future generations depend on it. Today is World Cancer Day. A day to reflect on the good news about progress against cancer and the challenges that lie ahead.


The good news is that, thanks to cancer research being conducted across the globe, real progress is being made in cancer prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. Cancer deaths in the U.S. have dropped 26% from 1991 to 2015, saving nearly 3 million lives. The pace of development of new therapies is accelerating rapidly thanks to new understanding of what causes and drives cancers.  The challenge is that the world cancer burden is expanding rapidly due to the growth and aging of the population.


February 1, 2018

Helen M. Piwnica-Worms, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’84-’85, Former Fellowship Award Committee Member) of MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, received the 2018 Laura Ziskin Prize in Translational Research from Stand Up to Cancer. She and her collaborator will apply their expertise in DNA damage repair mechanisms and imaging mass cytometry to investigate how the immune system recognizes breast cancer and devise new treatment combinations for more effective treatments. 


January 31, 2018

Feng Zhang, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘12-‘14) of the Broad Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, was named one of three recipients of the 2018 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. The awards from the Vilcek Foundation recognize young foreign-born biomedical scientists, 38 years old or younger, who demonstrate outstanding early achievement.  He is recognized for his groundbreaking work in the field of CRISPR genome editing.

January 31, 2018

Ron Levy, MD (Emeritus Board Member), and colleagues at Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, reported the success of an injectable "vaccine" delivered directly to tumors. The vaccine combines two key agents, a short piece of DNA called CpG oligonucleotide with an antibody that binds to OX40, thus activating immune T cells to fight cancer cells. In mice, they found that it could eliminate all traces of the injected tumors, including untreated metastases in the same animal.

January 29, 2018

Amanda Balboni Iniguez, PhD (Damon Runyon-Sohn Fellow ’15-’19) and colleagues at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, reported that a class of cancer drugs called CDK inhibitors may be able to disarm a gene that causes Ewing sarcoma, the second most common form of bone tumor in young people. They showed in mouse models of Ewing sarcoma that CDK12 inhibitors could slow down tumor growth and extend life.

January 23, 2018

Mark W. Zimmerman, PhD (Damon Runyon-Sohn Fellow ’14-’18) and colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, have identified mechanisms that drive about 10 percent of high-risk neuroblastoma cases. Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumor affecting infants and young children with few effective treatment options. The researchers found that a protein called c-MYC could cause neuroblastoma, when it is produced at abnormally high levels in tumor cells in a zebrafish model.