The National Foundation for Cancer Research has always been committed to providing scientists “adventure funding” to discover—and then to incubate their novel ideas and approaches to preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer in support of Research for a Cure. In that spirit we’ve leveraged NFCR’s access to leading scientists at major universities, cancer centers and research hospitals into the Salisbury Award for Entrepreneurial Translational Research.
The program, launched in 2019, is proudly named in honor of the co-founders, Franklin, Sr., and Tamara Salisbury, and the organization’s chief executive officer for two decades, Franklin, Jr. Over 80 years of combined service, the three Salisburys galvanized NFCR into a significant force in cancer research worldwide.
The Salisbury Award platform is an extension of NFCR’s longstanding support to the kind of “high-risk, high-impact and high-reward” research that is providing key insights into the underlying causes of cancer and new approaches to treatments and cures. Its goal: catalyzing promising laboratory cancer research and placing resulting technologies onto a pathway toward clinical trials and patient impact.
Cancer research follows a path from an idea, through several stages of laboratory work, to clinical trials that, when successful, end in regulatory registration and approval of a new technology product. The process typically takes between seven and 15 years, and many promising and innovative discoveries stall inside laboratories at the Pre-clinical/Phase I stages. Researchers refer to these stages as the “Valley of Death,” where innovative discoveries die due to lack of research funding.
Through the Salisbury Award for Entrepreneurial Translational Research platform, NFCR is able to identify the most promising discoveries and cutting-edge technologies. Our organization will then provide critically needed support to these discoveries that are still in laboratories—i.e., not yet in-licensed by risk-taking start-ups or large biopharmaceutical companies. This, so as to accelerate experimental lab projects along paths toward technology validation, proof-of-concept and Phase I clinical trials, to a point where commercial risks are lessened and licensing occurs.
Salisbury Award for Entrepreneurial Translational Research support will also help enable access to additional capital for further growth. Furthermore, NFCR will help increase visibility of the program’s top projects and help introduce their principals to key experts among our global cancer research and development network. In short, through the Salisbury Award platform, we aim to speed up the translation into clinical trials of novel therapeutic product candidates that could benefit cancer patients around the world.
As is the inherent nature of life sciences development, most laboratory projects will fail to reach clinical trial stages. Due to such failure rates, very few financial resource providers (especially profit-seeking investors—including banks, venture capitalists or private equity firms) grant or invest in high-risk-bearing translational research projects, particularly those still primarily in the lab, not yet licensed by private companies. The National Foundation for Cancer Research, however, is committed to fund these “high-risk, high-impact” efforts at leading research centers.
The Salisbury Award for Entrepreneurial Translational Research encourages academic scientists to focus on the translation of their discoveries into potential therapies with commercial potential that can benefit cancer patients. It also honors and acknowledges the Salisbury family’s legacy and vision for cancer research that has resulted in treatments that are saving lives.
In 2017, NFCR launched a translational research program as a complement to its enduring commitment to basic cancer research. The goal is to provide dedicated support for translating breakthrough discoveries into new cancer treatments for patients. Our organization’s expansion into the translational cancer research area, first through entrepreneurial program related investments and NFCR Recoverable Translational Research Grants and now through the Salisbury Award platform, truly reflects our founders’ philosophy.