Novel Industry and Philanthropy Collaboration to Accelerate Cancer Cures

Novel Industry and Philanthropy Collaboration to Accelerate Cancer Cures

06.21.11 | By Lorraine Egan

Earlier today, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation launched 'Accelerating Cancer Cures,' a new initiative that brings together PhRMA, some of the industry's leading companies, and partners in academia to address the critical shortage of new young physician-scientists choosing careers in research, while also advancing a translational research model that will play a key role in discovering tomorrow's cancer cures. In addition to PhRMA, charter participants include Eli Lilly and Company, Celgene, Merck, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company and Pfizer.

Accelerating Cancer Cures will raise $25 million over the next five years, enough to fund an additional 50 new Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators, any one of whom has the potential to make the next dramatic breakthrough in cancer prevention or treatment. Many of the biggest achievements of the past decade in the fight against cancer were made by physician-scientists conducting translational and clinical research, a number supported by our Foundation. But if the best new medical school graduates do not choose careers in research, our efforts to find cancer cures will be threatened.
John Castellani described the critical importance of this issue in the news release that announced the initiative today, "Accelerating Cancer Cures is an opportunity to build a new generation of leaders in clinical cancer research that not only produce exceptional science, but can work with industry to bring new treatments to patients. At a time of tremendous financial challenge for industry and academia, this novel collaboration demonstrates industry-wide commitment to progress against cancer. It's a win-win for biomedicine, our economy and millions of patients worldwide."
The effort builds on the success of the Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award program, which was established to stem the "brain drain" in clinical research. Since its founding in 2000, 58 physician-scientists have been awarded and all of them remain committed to clinical cancer research today. We are very pleased to announce the newest class of Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators working on cutting-edge research:
  • Marie Bleakley, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle. Dr. Bleakley is working on new approaches to separate the graft versus leukemia (GVL) effect from graft versus host disease (GVHD) after bone marrow transplantation.
  • Ralph J. DeBerardinis, MD, PhD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. Dr. DeBerardinis is working to understand the role of metabolism in tumor growth and use those findings to improve cancer treatment.
  • Joshua D. Schiffman, MD, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Dr. Schiffman is working to understand the underlying molecular genetics of pediatric sarcoma.
  • Zsofia K. Stadler, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York. Dr. Stadler is working to determine the genetic basis of sporadic cancers in young adults.
  • Jean Y. Tang, MD, PhD, Stanford University, Stanford. Dr. Tang is working to characterize mechanisms of drug resistance in treatment of skin cancer.
In addition to funding, the Accelerating Cancer Cures program will help support these scientists in other ways including:
  • Providing the investigators with access to the expertise of senior oncology executives and leaders in academic cancer research to help translate discoveries into therapeutic treatments.
  • Creating opportunities for the investigators to collaborate with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and to learn about industry science as visiting scientists.
  • Fostering collaboration between researchers by hosting an annual translational research summit that connects young scientists and leaders from industry and academia.
With the biopharmaceutical industry's shared commitment to this effort, we are confident that Accelerating Cancer Cures will lead to tremendous breakthroughs in cancer research. Working together, we can meet the challenge of bringing promising young physician-scientists into the research field, while making an impact in the lives of millions worldwide. We invite you to follow the latest developments at www.damonrunyon.org/

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