Robyn Stoller, Author at NFCR - Page 5 of 6

Robyn Stoller

Decadent, Delicious, Disease-Preventing Dark Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate your love with a food many love – chocolate. After all, chocolate tops most people’s favorite foods list, and it turns out there are some good health reasons in addition to the good taste reasons.  Chocolate – especially dark chocolate – is good for you.

Research shows that chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, improve memory and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[i] And, contrary to popular belief, research shows chocolate doesn’t ruin your complexion.

In the post below, don’t miss a unique chocolate truffle recipe!

dark chocolate barNot All Chocolates are Created Equal

While all chocolates contain antioxidants called flavonoids, dark chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, provide more health benefits than milk chocolate or white chocolate.
The stronger and darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains and the more health benefits it provides.

For maximum health benefits when buying chocolate, look for:

  • Dark chocolate blocks with at least 70% cocoa solids.
  • Raw cacao or cocoa powder.
    One gram of cocoa contains over 30 mg of flavanols, whereas one gram of dark chocolate contains approximately 12.5 mg.To learn more about cocoa, read our blog post Cancer-Fighting Cocoa.
  • Cacao nibs, which are crushed, raw cacao beans. You can use these in place of chocolate chips in items like cookies, trail mixes or smoothies.

Cocoa & Skin Cancer Research

Helmut Sies, M.D., a biochemist at Heinrich-Heine-Universitat in Dusseldorf, Germany, is a leading cancer prevention expert and received funding from NFCR for his nutrition-focused cancer research. Dr. Sies’ key research breakthrough on micronutrients involves his discovery that lycopene – a carotenoid and antioxidant found in tomatoes – can help curb the initiation of cancer. His research has also shown that flavonoids (found in cocoa products) can prevent skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation. High flavanol cocoa – which has similar amounts of flavanols as 100gm dark chocolate – improves skin health and hydration and may reduce risk of UV-induced skin damage.

Let’s be clear: This research doesn’t mean you should start rubbing cocoa products on your skin – but it does mean there could be skin-cancer fighting properties in some sweets!

Real Food Chocolate Truffles

The Chocolate Truffles recipe below provides a healthy twist on a classic Valentine’s Day favorite. They’re easy to make and your sweetheart will LOVE them!
Adapted from Diana Keuilian

chocolate balls

  • 2 cups pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey, melted
  • Melted dark chocolate
  • Unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Minced dark chocolate pieces


  1. Place the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place the dates in a small bowl with hot water and cover for 10 minutes. Discard the soaking water and place the dates and cooled pecans in the food processor, along with the cocoa powder, sea salt and honey. Pulse until coarse and crumbly.
  3. Cover a tray that fits in your freezer with parchment paper. Form the dough into 30 balls and roll in the toppings of your choice.
  4. Place the truffles on the prepared pan and freeze for 15 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Fun Chocolate Facts

*Eating just ONE chocolate chip gives the average adult the needed energy to walk 150 feet.
*A dark chocolate bar has approximately 10-15g of sugar. A glass of orange juice has about 22g of sugar.
*Chocolate is harmful to dogs and can cause seizures and even death.
*Chocolate syrup was used to depict blood in the iconic shower scene of Hitchcock’s film “Psycho.”

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Cancer-Curbing Cauliflower: Your Carb Replacement

Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables in the cruciferous family and can be used to replace carbohydrates – anything from starchy potatoes to rice.

cauliflower diagram

Cauliflower’s impressive array of nutrients – including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals – help keep our immune system healthy and strong.

Studies have shown that eating three to five servings of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and kale each week can significantly lower your risk of developing cancer.[1]

Cauliflower Fried Rice

(Adapted from Skinny Taste)


  • 1 medium head cauliflower, rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 small onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 scallions, diced, whites and greens separated
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce, or more to taste


  1. Remove the core and let the cauliflower dry completely.
  2. Coarsely chop into florets, then place half of the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice or couscous – don’t over process or it will get mushy. Set aside and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
  3. Combine egg and egg whites in a small bowl and beat with a fork. Season with salt.
  4. Heat a large saute pan or wok over medium heat and spray with oil.
  5. Add the eggs and cook, turning a few times until set; set aside.
  6. Add the sesame oil and saute onions, scallion whites, peas and carrots and garlic about 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Raise the heat to medium-high.
  7. Add the cauliflower “rice” to the saute pan along with soy sauce. Mix, cover and cook approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside.
  8. Add the egg then remove from heat and mix in scallion greens.




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8 Proactive Cancer-Preventing Pointers

Over 14 million people worldwide were diagnosed with cancer this past year, according to the World Health Organization. And the numbers are expected to increase by 70% over the next 20 years. [1] With cancer continuing to affect the lives of so many people, it’s important to understand what steps we can take to prevent or reduce cancer risk.

Quick stats:

  • Research has shown that at least 1/3 of all cancer cases are preventable. [2]
  • Last year, over 1.6 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer – that means more than 500,000 cases could have been avoided. [3]
  • Scientists are actively studying different ways to help prevent cancer, including changes in diet and lifestyle, chemoprevention (medicines that treat precancerous conditions or keep cancer from starting) and much more. Read about related work by NFCR-funded scientists Dr. Helmut Sies and Dr. Michael Sporn.

1. Stop smoking

no more smokingA single cigarette contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, including 70 cancer-causing chemicals. [4]  Research has linked smoking with 14 different types of cancer including lung, colon, pancreatic, liver, esophageal, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, stomach, cervical and rectal caners, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

Quitting reduces your risk even if you’ve smoked for years. Talk to your doctor about strategies or free support systems that can help you quit. Also, avoid second-hand smoke whenever possible – it can be just as damaging as personally smoking.

2. Maintain a healthy weight

People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of many serious health conditions, including cancers.

To control weight gain, eat more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life can lower your risk of breast, uterine, prostate, lung, colon, kidney, pancreatic, esophageal, gallbladder and thyroid cancers. [5]

 3. Know your family history

family history formApproximately 5 to 10% of all cancers are considered hereditary, which means you may be at greater risk for some cancers if you have a personal or family history of cancer or certain diseases. [6] Genetic counseling and testing may be recommended for people with a strong family history of cancer. Click here for more information on genetic testing.

4. Practice safe sunning

Skin cancer rates are on the rise and sunscreen has been proven to reduce the risk of skin cancer. While people with fair skin may be more likely to develop skin cancer due to sun exposure, people with darker skin tones are at risk as well. Sunscreen protects against sunburn as well as harmful ultraviolet rays that can wreak havoc on your skin on cloudy, overcast or winter days when there is no sunshine. It’s good to use sunscreen every day – even durisafe sunningng the winter months.

Also avoid indoor tanning salons. Research has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Even one indoor tanning session can increase users’ risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%. [7]

 5. Limit your alcohol intake

Although moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it’s also not risk-free. Excessive alcohol use can cause liver damage, heart problems and increases your risk of breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx and liver cancers. [8]

To reduce your lifetime risk of cancer: On average, men should not consume more than two drinks per day and women should not consume more than three drinks per week.

 6. Limit red and processed meats

Research shows that people who eat more red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and processed meats (like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and salami) have a higher risk of developing colorectal and prostate cancers. [9] Although there is not scientific consensus, the observed increased risk may be explained by high iron and fat content in red meat and/or the salt and nitrates in processed meat.

Need some red meat alternatives? Try some of our favorite cancer-fighting recipes tonight like Rainbow Salsa (with grilled fish or chicken) and Pumpkin Soup (with a Garlic, Kale and Sesame Topping).

7. Get moving every day

get moving every dayStudies conclusively show that exercise helps relieve stress, weight gain and reduces cancer- related risks. It can even help cancer survivors live longer! So get out there and dance, run, bike or walk. Exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes every day has many benefits.

8. Schedule your screenings

Regular cancer screenings help with early detection and prevention. Screening tests include mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, pap smears for cervical and uterine cancer, body checks for skin cancer and more. Talk to your doctor to see what screenings are appropriate for you given your family history, age and lifestyle choices. For more information on cancer screenings, please refer to our Cancer Detection Guidelines.

Preventative Cancer Research

The best way to reduce the number of patients dying from cancer is to prevent the disease from developing in the first place. That’s why NFCR-sponsored researchers have been investigating links between nutrition and cancer as well as drug development to prevent cancer for decades. 

dr siesScientist Dr. Helmut Sies¸ whose work was funded by NFCR, discovered the antioxidant lycopene, a micronutrient found in tomatoes and other foods. Lycopene has strong skin cancer prevention effects. Today, his research is focused on selenium, a trace metal found in certain foods that is essential for good health. There is evidence that selenium improves human health and helps prevent cancer – specifically colon cancer – and Dr. Sies has been researching the molecular basis for this.

*Prevention tip: Read how to add selenium to your diet


dr spornDr. Michael Sporn, whose work was supported by NFCR, is known as the “Father of Chemoprevention” because his research led to the development of several synthetic triterpenoid compounds, which are a new class of chemical agents with potent preventative effects against several types of cancer, including breast, lung and pancreatic cancers. For individuals with a family history or are otherwise at high risk of developing these diseases, the promising results of Dr. Sporn’s research offers hope that their chances of developing cancer may be dramatically reduced by the use of chemoprevention.

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Tasty Tomatoes: Anti-Cancer Attributes & A Healthy Recipe

While people debate the age-old question about whether tomatoes are a fruit or vegetable, here’s an undisputed fact: Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, and the antioxidant lycopene.

Studies show that lycopene may help prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. The powerful antioxidant can also help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Plus, there’s some evidence that cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast and cervix can be reduced with increased lycopene intake.


What Types of Tomato Products Should I Eat?

Lycopene is a lipid-soluble compound, which means that consuming it with fat (oil) increases its bioavailability. So you will obtain more lycopene from the fresh tomatoes in your salad when they are paired with a full fat dressing ins
tead of reduced fat dressing.

Additionally, our bodies extract the most benefit of the lycopene from processed tomato products, such as tomato paste, sauce and ketchup. So keep the tomato-y condiments on hand for a healthy boost!

Need a tomato-heavy recipe suggestion? Try the delicious fish recipe below. Bon appétit!

Sear-Roasted Halibut with Tomato & Capers 

Adapted from Fine Cooking


  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2  tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb thick skinless halibut fillet (or other mild white fish, like cod), cut into 4 even pieces
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the tomatoes, capers, oregano, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  3. Season the fish with 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and dredge it in the flour, shaking off the excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch (preferably nonstick) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the fish, evenly spaced, and cook without touching until it browns and releases easily from the pan (check by gently lifting one of the corners), about 3 minutes. Flip the fish, sprinkle the garlic around it, and cook until the garlic just starts to brown on some edges, about 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the tomato mixture around the fish and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the fish is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 6 minutes.
  5. Let the fish rest for a couple of minutes and then serve with the tomato mixture spooned over it.

Related NFCR Research

NFCR-funded researcher Dr. Helmut Sies, a world-renowned scientist in the field of cancer prevention, discovered that lycopene has the highest antioxidant capacity of carotenoids (colorful pigments in fruits and vegetables).

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The Man Who Halted the Growth of Tumors: Dr. Harold F. Dvorak

ASG Winners: Then & Now

The Szent-Györgyi Prize was established in honor of Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi, co-founder of NFCR, to recognize outstanding scientific achievement in the war against cancer. Ten years later, “ASG Winners: Then & Now” looks at these winners, their extraordinary contributions and how their discoveries have made possible new approaches to treating cancer.

Dr. Harold F. Dvorak

Dr. Harold F. Dvorak at the ASG Ceremony in 2006

The first winner of the Szent-Györgyi Prize was Harold F. Dvorak, MD, distinguished Mallinkrodt Professor of Pathology Emeritus at Harvard Medical School and former chief of the Department of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In 1983, Dr. Dvorak was the first to demonstrate that tumor cells secrete a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), known at the time as vascular permeability factor or VPF. Dr. Dvorak’s seminal discovery provided the molecular basis for the field of angiogenesis and helped pave the way for researchers to develop anti-angiogenesis treatments to halt and even reverse tumor growth. Today, anti-cancer therapies that work by inhibiting angiogenesis are among the most promising new approaches to treating cancer.

What is Angiogenesis?

Like all living tissues, tumors need a steady supply of blood to survive. Blood vessel formation, or “angiogenesis,” makes it possible for tumors to grow and spread. If cancer researchers knew the mechanisms by which tumors acquire additional blood vessels, they might discover new strategies to block this process and literally starve tumors to keep them from growing.

Dr. Dvorak’s Discovery of VEGF

Dr. Harold F. Dvorak in the laboratory

While conducting research supported by NFCR, Dr. Dvorak discovered that cancerous tumors make and secrete VEGF. This was how tumors acquire and form new blood vessels. VEGF is the way tumors grow and spread. Tumors differ from healing wounds: As soon a wound is healed, VEGF production is turned off abruptly. Tumors, on the other hand, continue to make large amounts of VEGF. This, in essence, keeps the VEGF Production in an “on position” so that cancer cells grow and spread. This explained how malignant tumors differed from those of normal tissue in both structure and function. “Hal Dvorak’s contributions to the field of cancer research are legendary,” says NFCR President, Sujuan Ba, PhD. Dr. Dvorak’s groundbreaking discovery has changed the face of cancer research and led to the development of VEGF-targeting anti-angiogenic drugs such as bevacizumab or Avastin®. In 2004, Avastin was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of colorectal cancer.

Today’s Impact

The 2006 ASG Prize Selection Committee Chairman, Daniel Von Hoff, MD, now Director of Translational Research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Arizona, said, “Without Dr. Dvorak’s fundame

(From left to right) Dr. Daniel Von Hoff,
Dr. Harold F. Dvorak and Dr. Sujuan Ba
at the ASG Ceremony in 2006

ntal discovery we would probably not have had the therapeutic agent Avastin (bevacizumab), which has had a tremendous impact on improving survival for patients with advanced colorectal cancer, breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and renal cell carcinoma. In addition, other small molecules which inhibit VEGF have also shown outstanding clinical antitumor activity with dramatic therapeutic effects for patients worldwide.” Today in the U.S., in addition to colorectal cancer, Avastin is FDA-approved for treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, the aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and certain types of cervical and ovarian cancers.  More than 280 clinical trials are currently investigating the use of this particular anti-VEGF agent in over 50 tumor types.

Recent Blood Vessel Research

Dr. Dvorak’s recent research projects have led to the identification and characterization of at least six different kinds of blood vessels in tumors. While current anti-angiogenic therapies primarily act against only one of them, his latest discoveries provide opportunities for new types of treatments. His research group has already discovered the new therapeutic targets on the other five vessel types and they are aiming to improve the effectiveness of anti-angiogenic therapy by attacking the entire tumor environment. “Dr. Dvorak’s initial discovery helped to take cancer investigations in a whole new direction,” said Jeffrey S. Flier, MD, the 21st Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University, “an endeavor he continues to this day.”

Related Content

 Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi  


Learn more about the Nobel-Prize Winning Co-Founder of NFCR: Albert Szent-Györgyi







Learn more about the ASG Prize 


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Attention Women: 6 Must-Know Facts About Cervical Cancer

With cervical cancer continuing to affect women worldwide, it’s important to understand the disease known as a “silent killer” and what we can do to improve our chances of beating it.

Quick stats:

  • Women of all ages are at risk of cervical cancer.
  • In the United States, an estimated 13,000 women were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2016 and more than 4,000 women will die as a result of this diagnosis.
  • Although the number of new cases has been declining over the past decades thanks to the Pap screening, cervical cancer is still the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide.[1]

Here’s a list of six facts you need to know about cervical cancer:

1.  HPV is the #1 cause of cervical cancer.

To find a cure, it’s vital to know the causes. Most cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another through sexual activity.  Both men and women can be infected with HPV. It can be present for years without causing any symptoms and can be passed on to others without knowing.

The Centers for Diseases Control reports more than 20 million people are currently infected with HPV worldwide and another 6.2 million will contract the virus each year.[2] HPV has also been linked to other cancers including cancer of the throat, penis, anus, vulva and vagina.

2. Most cervical cancer cases are preventable.

Because cervical cancer is typically caused by HPV, the simplest way to prevent cervical cancer is to prevent HPV infection in the first place. Since 2006, a highly effective HPV vaccination has been used. Just like other vaccines, the HPV vaccine helps your immune system create an antibody response that protects your body against the infection. This vaccination is administered in two or three shots over a six-month period to both males and females between the ages of 9-26.[3]

Routine Pap testing is the best way to detect abnormal changes to the cervix before they develop into cancer. Much like removing polyps to prevent colon cancer, treating these abnormal cells can help prevent cervical cancer from forming. More than half of the women in the United States who get cervical cancer have never had or rarely had a Pap test.[4] The Pap test can also identify cervical cancer early – when it is in its most curable stage.

3. Only certain strains of HPV cause cancer.

HPV is serious – but not always a cancer indicator. HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Most men and women who have ever had sex will get HPV at some time in their lives. And while there are strains that can cause cervical cancer and make it the top cause of the disease, as mentioned above, most HPV infections go away without treatment and are not linked to cancer.

 4. Smoking and other factors increase risk of cervical cancer.

Women who smoke are about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer. Smoking weakens your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight HPV infections on its own.

There is also evidence that long-term use of oral contraceptives as well as being overweight increase risk of cervical cancer.

Women with a sister or mother who had cervical cancer are two to three times more likely to develop the disease. Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of cervical cancer.

5. There are warning signs, but not early warning signs.

Cervical cancer often presents no symptoms in its early stages, which is why it is often referred to as a “silent killer.” But as the disease progresses, warning signs may present themselves. Examples include pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, painful urination, unusual discharge, abnormal menstrual cycles, pain or bleeding after sex, anemia, urinary incontinence, and back pain.[6] If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.

6. Genomics research helps us attack cervical cancer – and all types of cancer.

NFCR has distinguished itself from other organizations by emphasizing long-term, transformative research and working to move people toward cancer genomics and away from the old “location-based” research approaches.

   Wayne Marasco, M.D., Ph.D.

Antibody Engineering
At NFCR’s Center for Therapeutic Antibody Engineering (CTAE), the research being conducted may end up being applicable for different types of cancer, not just renal cell carcinoma (one cancer-type the research is centered around). The NFCR CTAE – is affiliated with Dr. Wayne A. Marasco’s Laboratory in the Department of Cancer Immunology & AIDS of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a teaching hospital affiliate of Harvard Medical School. The NFCR CTAE focuses on targeted immunotherapy and treatments through engineered human antibodies.

Dr. Marasco has had great success developing antibodies that attach to carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX), an important tumor-associated protein highly expressed in renal cell carcinoma – the most common type of kidney cancer. Once attached, the CAIX antibody can halt abnormal cancer growth. Current NFCR research by Center Director Dr. Marasco and his team combines CAIX antibody with immune response activators to more effectively treat renal cancer. Moreover, there is demonstrated expression of CAIX in cervical, breast, ovarian, and lung cancers, in addition to various other types.

Research like Dr. Marasco’s has the potential to move quickly from its focus on one cancer type to diagnostic and treatment applications for many cancer types, such as cervical cancer.

       Harold F. Dvorak, M.D.

Tumor Angiogenesis
Thirty years ago, NFCR scientist Dr. Harold F. Dvorak made the landmark discovery of the vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF), which plays a central role in angiogenesis, the process by which tumors recruit blood vessels to supply the nutrients they need to grow and survive. Dr. Dvorak’s breakthrough led the research community to develop inhibitors of VEGF. One anti- VEGF targeted cancer therapy created has treated over 1.5 million patients with various types of primary and metastatic cancers. In 2014, this anti-VEGF antibody combined with chemotherapy was approved by FDA to treat patients with persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer. A comprehensive clinical program with more than 280 ongoing studies is investigating the use of the anti-VEGF antibody in over 50 tumor types, including more trials to treat patients with cervical and uterine cancers.


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2017: The Year of Cancer Genomics

A look at major genomic trends shaping healthcare

We are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs in the fight against cancer. Innovations developed in research laboratories are improving treatments for patients today. By focusing on the genetic makeup of cancer cells – rather than the part of the body where someone’s cancer originated – doctors are beginning to personalize and improve
treatments for individual patients.

“For years, NFCR has been supporting molecular profiling and next-generation sequencing to better diagnose and treat cancer patients with targeted cancer therapies – and it looks like 21st century medicine will be about cancer genomics,” said Franklin Salisbury, Jr., CEO of NFCR. “As we start to move away from the old ‘location-based’ approaches of treating cancer, at NFCR we are excited that doctors everywhere are using targeted cancer therapies to better treat all types of cancer.” He adds: “21st century medicine has embraced genomic technology and the cancer field is at the forefront of these efforts to better treat cancer by looking at the genetic aspects of the disease.”

Below is an excerpt on what to expect in the field of cancer genomics from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. The article is titled: “A Look Ahead: Seven Trends Shaping Genomics in 2017 and Beyond.”

Advances in Genome Sequencing, Pharmacogenomics, Gene Editing, and Biometric Wearables Will Provide New Pathways to Better Health

Genomics research holds the key to meeting many of the global healthcare challenges of the years ahead. In the last few years, costs for genetic testing have plummeted, as advances in sequencing technology have made individual genome sequencing economically feasible. Remarkable advances in genomics technologies, including pharmacogenomics, direct-to-consumer genomics, and wearable data-collection devices are leading to large pools of stored data.

Using in-memory computing technology, researchers are able to analyze and use this genomic data in innovative ways, leading to extraordinary changes in the way healthcare is delivered today. Some of these advancements are happening now, as liquid biopsy DNA tests emerge as noninvasive screening options for early cancer detection. And revolutionary gene editing techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 may soon offer innovative ways to modify genes to treat rare genetic diseases. 

A significant number of large-scale genomic projects are already underway, pointing toward positive advancements in 2017. Here’s a look at seven major trends that will shape the healthcare and life science markets in the field of genomics:

1. Integration of Genomic Data into Clinical Workflows

While major clinical centers such as Stanford Health Care and many cancer research centers are using genomic data to personalize treatments, the use of genomics in clinics nationwide is not yet commonplace.  This will change in 2017… [click here to read full article]

2. On the Rise: Pharmacogenomic

Researchers have already identified a few hundred genes that are related to drug metabolism, and are continuing to identify more …  [click here to read full article]

3. Emergence of Advanced Genomic Editing Techniques

This has great potential, ranging from creating a better food supply in agriculture to correcting specific mutations in the human genome …  [click here to read full article]

4. Noninvasive Cancer Screening

Another key disease-fighting tool to watch in 2017 is DNA liquid biopsy testing: a cancer-screening test based on a simple blood draw …  [click here to read full article]

5. More Direct-to-Consumer Genetics

Companies such as 23andMe offer direct-to-consumer testing, allowing people to explore their genetic makeup. The company provides a test that includes 65 online reports of ancestry, personal traits …  [click here to read full article]

6. Growth of Newborn Genetic Screening Programs

Within the next 10 years, it is quite possible that every new baby will have their genome sequenced … [click here to read full article]

7. Integration of New Data Streams

Population health management may be where analytics bring the broadest rewards, as new data streams that include wearables data, genomics (proteomics and metabolic) data, and clinical data converge to provide a better picture of a patient’s health … [click here to read full article]

As the costs for genetic testing continue to drop and these genomic technologies advance, healthcare will transform, more cures will be discovered and the millions of people worldwide will benefit.

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7 Cancer-Fighting New Year’s Resolutions

At the beginning of each new year, almost half of adults in North America resolve to better themselves in some way. From spending more time with family and friends to saving money to losing weight, New Year’s Resolutions are often made with the best of intentions but can be challenging to keep. In fact, studies show that more than 20% of resolutions are broken after the first week, 40% are broken after one month and 60% after six months.[1] YIKES!

In honor of 2017, we’ve put together seven cancer-fighting resolutions that are worth fighting to keep. If you can’t commit to all seven, simply pick one or two and stick with them. Your body will thank you.

1. Give your body the nutrients it needs.  

What you eat – and don’t eat – has a powerful effect on your health. Maintaining a healthy weight and nourishing your body with certain foods is key. A few simple changes to your diet can make a big difference in how you look and feel – and can also help lower your risk of cancer.

Add superfoods to your diet.
Superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that contain large doses of cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
* Add dark green veggies like spinach, broccoli and kale to your salads and omelets.
* Snack on a handful of raw almonds or roasted pumpkin seeds instead of a bag of chips.
* Also, check out some of our favorite cancer-fighting recipes using superfoods.

Replace one processed item a day with real food.
* Grab an apple or an orange instead of cookies.
* Substitute cucumbers and baby carrots for crackers. Dip them hummus for a tasty treat.
* Replace soda with a glass of water or sparkling water. Water helps your body get rid of toxins that put you at risk for diseases like cancer.

2. Schedule your screenings.

Regular cancer screenings help with early detection and prevention of cancer. Screening tests include mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, pap smears for cervical and uterine cancer, body checks for skin cancer and more. Talk to your doctor to see what screenings are appropriate for you given your family history, age and lifestyle choices. For more information on cancer screenings, see NFCR’s Cancer Detection Guidelines.

3. Use sunscreen every day (even during the winter months).  

Skin cancer rates are on the rise and sunscreen has been proven to reduce the risk of skin cancer. While people with fair skin may be more likely to develop skin cancer due to sun exposure, people with darker skin tones are at risk as well. Sunscreen protects against sunburn as well as harmful ultraviolet rays that can wreak havoc on your skin on cloudy, overcast or winter days where there is no sunshine. Sunscreen also helps prevent premature aging.

4. Get moving every day.  

Studies conclusively show that exercise helps relieve stress, weight gain and reduces cancer-related risks. It can even help cancer survivors live longer. So, get out there and dance, run, bike or walk. Exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes every day has so many benefits.

5. Reduce your alcohol intake.

Although moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it’s also not risk-free. Excessive use can cause liver damage, heart problems and even cancer. To reduce your lifetime risk of cancer: On average, men should not consume more than 2 drinks per day and women should not consume more than 3 drinks per week.

6. Quit smoking. 

Smoking harms nearly every organ and organ system in the body. It can also cause 14 different types of cancer. If you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing lung can be up to 25 times higher than someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years.

7. Travel the world with Fly to Find a Cure.

Fly to Find A Cure
 is an NFCR program aimed at raising funds to accelerate vital cancer research projects with travel incentives. For every dollar donated, you earn airline mileage from your choice of popular airlines programs: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan®, American Airlines AAdvantage®, United MileagePlus® or Delta SkyMiles®. A major portion of your gift is also tax deductible. So make a resolution to travel to a new city or exotic location this year and fight cancer at the same time. To learn more, visit

From all of us at NFCR, we wish you a happy, healthy, safe 2017!



* The first New Year’s celebration dates back 4,000 years.

* Noisemaking and fireworks on New Year’s Eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.

* It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year’s Day would bring either good luck or bad luck for the rest of the year, depending on who he/she was.

* December 31, 1907 marks the very first ball lowering in Times Square.

Source: MSN


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On the Move With Dr. Ba: 2016 Recap

We are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs in the fight against cancer. Research is fueling the development of new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Precision medicine and genomics are accelerating the pace of progress to improve lives around the world.

NFCR President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Sujuan Ba, has spent this past year traveling the world to lead efforts and collaborate with top scientists to improve patient treatments as well as educate the public on advances in cancer research and prevention.

A Few 2016 Highlights

January March

groupWhile many people were excited about a short work week because of the Martin Luther King Day holiday, Dr. Ba was travelling the world to collaborate with cancer researchers in China. In Beijing, Dr. Ba organized a workshop with 50 scientists from three continents and launched GBM AGILE China at a press conference at the China Hall of Science and Technology. This global launch effort is a continuation of the already-successful Washington, DC launch held in November 2015 for the groundbreaking global alliance formed to cure Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the deadliest human brain tumor. NFCR is particularly pleased with this first-of-its-kind international collaboration because it can help establish best-practice protocols for countries working together. Dr. Ba said, “GBM AGILE will change the paradigm of clinical research in the future, with a systematic approach to reveal potentially lifesaving treatments far faster than has ever been possible.” Click here to read the full text of Dr. Ba’s speech.

What is GBM AGILE?

Led by the best and brightest cancer researchers, GBM AGILE is a revolutionary global collaboration to test and develop new brain cancer treatments.

This global coalition- of which NFCR is a founding supporter-  has attracted over 150 participants from more than 40 leading cancer institutions across three continents. It implements a new generation of clinical trials – called “adaptive trials” – which allow patients to be enrolled more quickly, receive treatment with multiple anti-cancer drugs simultaneously and does not require years of follow-up to determine whether a new experimental treatment is beneficial. Every patient counts in this innovative clinical trial.

For the past decade, Dr. Ba has worked closely with a group of passionate and accomplished women – known as “Daffodils and Diamonds” – who have resolved to make an impact in the fight against cancer. Their efforts have raised hundreds of thousands of life-saving research dollars.

Early in the year, Dr. Ba worked tirelessly with members of Daffodils & Diamonds to create the D&D Accelerator Fund for Cancer New Therapies. Too often, promising new cancer drugs and therapies lose funding and stall just before investment communities and biopharmaceutical companies can take them to the next level. This D&D Accelerator Fund aims to help bridge the so-called “valley of death” between early stage development and FDA approval.

d-and-dThis new initiative was announced at the 35th Annual Daffodils and Diamonds Luncheon in Chevy Chase, MD. Dr. Ba and members of the NFCR staff attended the event and thanked the D&D members for their hard work and generosity. Dr. Ba is confident this Accelerator Fund would provide a mechanism to  generate a sustainable stream of future revenue to plow back to support cancer research.  This long-living commitment to cancer research will appropriately showcase the  great efforts made by this incredibly dedicated group of women.

April – June

asgOn May 2, the 2016 annual Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research was awarded to Dr. Mary-Claire King for her seminal research on the existence of BRCA and the identification of its location. Thanks to Dr. King, genetic screening methods are now available to identify people at high risk, and preventive and therapeutic approaches have been developed to treat breast and ovarian cancer more effectively.

Over 150 people attended the dinner and award ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  Dr. Ba spearheaded the creation of this international, annual prize in 2006. The award recognizes outstanding scientific achievement in the war against cancer. This year, Dr. Ba made closing remarks at the event thanking Dr. King for her significant contribution to cancer research which saved million’s lives and emphasized the importance of continuing investment for cancer research for future life-saving breakthroughs.

On May 16-18, Dr. Ba presided over the peer review meetings by NFCR’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) in San Francisco. The SAB and NFCR-funded scientists met with Dr. Ba and NFCR’s scientific team to discuss scientific, strategic and clinical direction for NFCR’s science and translational research programs. “Research will cure cancer and NFCR is about research,” Dr. Ba stressed at the meetings. “This Scientific Advisory Board is about creating a road map for NFCR that works to liberate science—an architecture for speeding up discoveries and new approaches for treating cancer.”

After Dr. Ba returned to the Capital region, she ended the month of May by presenting at the Annual Conference for the National Association of Professional Asian American Women. Her speech titled “Your Best Defense Against Cancer” was an informative address for the accomplished crowd.  Dr. Ba highlighted some important prevention tips for the audience, since, until we find cures for all cancer, cancer prevention is still a powerful weapon we must use and spread.

July – August

gbmA scientist by training, Dr. Ba is a strong advocate for global collaboration – and not just flashy press announcements, but actual day-in and day-out long working groups with peers. As a member of the executive committee that leads Global GBM AGILE, Dr. Ba worked with a team of around 50 experts from the U.S., Australia and China to finalize the “Master Protocol of Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment” from August 7-11 in Phoenix, Arizona. This program will revolutionize how clinical trials are run in the future.

A few days after the successful conclusion of the GBM AGILE workshop in Arizona, Dr. Ba was in Frederick, Maryland cheering on a Play4TheCure® team as they raised funds for innovative cancer research. Play4TheCure® is dedicated to raising funds for NFCR through competitive sports featuring recreational sports clubs, middle schools, high schools and collegiate sporting events.

From August 20-21, Dr. Ba ended a busy month by attending the U.S.-China Forum on Precision Medicine and Patient Cares in Boston organized by Professor Raju Kucherlapati of Harvard University and the Kew Group, Dr. Ba shared her perspectives on cancer presision medicine at this form where diverse groups of scientists, physicians, regulators and business people get together to discuss the state of Precision Medicine and to find ways to promote this exciting newly emerging field.

September – October

panelIn September, Dr. Ba had the distinguished honor to be part of the opening ceremony VIPs at the First International Precision Medicine Conference in Tianjin, China, representing NFCR with a presentation titled Advancing Global Cancer Research through Non-profit Mission.

jbOn October 17, Dr. Ba joined Vice President Joe Biden for the Moonshot Report Release at the White House. Leading an organization that is responsible for groundbreaking cancer research discoveries throughout the past 40 years, Dr. Ba and NFCR greatly embrace this bold, collaborative undertaking.



What is Cancer Moonshot?

Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the Cancer Moonshot aims to dramatically accelerate efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer- to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in 5 years.

Click here to read a copy of the Vice President’s report.

Dr. Ba continued her treks with some of the best and brightest at MIT in Cambridge, MA. From October 26-28, Dr. Ba attended the CanceRx 2016: New Approaches to Commercializing Biomedical Research Conference where she urged universities and non-profit organizations to work more effectively to advance their common mission of saving patients’ lives. She actively discussed with fellow attendees about how we must incorporate investment communities and biotech/pharma companies into the ecosystem of fighting cures.

gbm2On November 11, Dr. Ba showed her support for the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) and one of NFCR’s long-term research fellow and current Chairman of the Scientific Board, Dr. Web Cavenee at the Gray Gala in Boston, MA.  Dr. Cavenee received the 2016 Feldman Founder’s Award for his long-term contributions to brain cancer research communities around the world.

Moving Forward

Even though the year is almost over, Dr. Ba certainly won’t be slowing down. To keep up with Dr. Ba on a daily basis, follow @Sujuan_Ba and @NFCR on twitter.

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NFCR’s Dr. Web Cavenee Honored at Prestigious Gray Gala

On Friday, November 11, 2016, the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) held its annual Gray Gala to recognize and celebrate the achievements of change-makers across the brain tumor community.  Pioneers in brain tumor research were honored, including Dr. Web Cavenee, Chairman of NFCR’s Scientific Advisory Board and former NFCR-funded research fellow.  Dr. Cavenee was awarded the 2016 Feldman Founder’s Award for Adult Brain Tumor Research.

David Arons, CEO NBTS; Dr. Web Cavanee, Ludwig Cancer Research and Chairman of NFCR Scientific Advisory Board; G. Bonnie Feldman, Founder of NBTS; Dr. David Louis, Pathology Chair Mass General Hospital)
Pictured above from left to right: David Arons, CEO NBTS; Dr. Web Cavanee, Ludwig Cancer Research and Chairman of NFCR Scientific Advisory Board; G. Bonnie Feldman, Founder of NBTS; Dr. David Louis, Pathology Chair Mass General Hospital)

“It was an honor to witness the celebration of the scientists, advocates and volunteers all joined together to support the brain tumor community,” said Dr. Sujuan Ba, President and COO of NFCR.

Dr. Sujuan Ba spoke to fellow leaders at the Gray Gala about this collaboration and stressed, “NFCR is proud to partner with the National Brain Tumor Society to fight GBM, one of the most deadly cancers.” Dr. Sujuan Ba is particularly enthusiastic about an innovative undertaking both the NFCR and NBTS are supporting: GBM AGILE.  Led by the best and brightest cancer researchers, GBM AGILE is a revolutionary global collaborative program to test and develop new brain cancer treatments. Its adaptive and personalized approach will cut several years of the clinical testing and reveal potentially lifesaving treatments far faster than has ever been possible. Additionally, the learning from GBM can be used for other cancers using similar approaches to save more lives.

Pictured: G. Bonnie Feldman, Founder of NBTS (left) and Dr. Sujuan Ba
Pictured: G. Bonnie Feldman, Founder of NBTS (left) and Dr. Sujuan Ba
Pictured: David Arons, CEO of NBTS (left) and Dr. Sujuan Ba
Pictured: David Arons, CEO of NBTS (left) and Dr. Sujuan Ba
Dr. Sujuan Ba with Key leaders of GBM AGILE pictured from left to right:
Dr. Alfred Yung (MD Anderson Cancer Center and NFCR Fellow);
Dr. Brian Alexander (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute);
Dr. Web Cavanee (Ludwig Cancer Research and Chairman of NFCR Scientific Advisory Board)
Dr. Sujuan Ba with Key leaders of GBM AGILE pictured from left to right: Dr. Alfred Yung (MD Anderson Cancer Center and NFCR Fellow); Dr. Brian Alexander (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute); Dr. Web Cavanee (Ludwig Cancer Research and Chairman of NFCR Scientific Advisory Board)
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