Damon Runyon News

October 16, 2018

Patients with metastatic breast cancer—when the tumor has spread to other organs in the body—face a terminal prognosis and toxic treatments. There is an urgent need for new ways to treat drug metastatic and resistant stages of the disease. Sarat Chandarlapaty, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ’12-’17), and colleagues, have developed a novel class of drugs that may help these patients by potentially stopping or even destroying breast cancer tumors.


October 15, 2018

Two Damon Runyon alumni were elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

October 3, 2018

By Yung S. Lie, PhD, Incoming President and Chief Executive Officer of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation


Damon Runyon congratulates the recipients of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, for their discovery that certain proteins act as “brakes” on the immune system, limiting its ability to attack cancer cells. Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have since been developed to take these brakes off, freeing the immune cells to fight cancer and save countless lives. The field of checkpoint inhibition, as well as the entire field of immunotherapy (harnessing the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells), has exponentially grown in importance due to the contributions of a community of many scientists. We are proud to have supported several Damon Runyon scientists, who have made critical discoveries that have helped bring this new class of drugs to patients.  


September 25, 2018

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive and hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. Doctors have observed that TNBC patients with higher numbers of immune cells in their tumors seem to have better survival than those with fewer, but it's not well understood why. Damon Runyon Fellow Leeat Yankielowicz-Keren, PhD, and Dale F. Frey Breakthrough Scientist Sean C.

September 17, 2018

One of the greatest challenges doctors face is predicting, which patients will respond to a particular cancer therapy. Ash Alizadeh, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator '14 - '17) and David Kurtz, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Physician Scientist '16 - '20), at Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new blood test to guide doctors when treating diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL). This research was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.


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.