admin, Author at NFCR


Genetic Testing for Cancer: What You Should Know

Genetic testing, including the tests using the second generation sequencing technology, is becoming an very important tool to improve the quality of medical care to cancer patients and high risk population. But, unless the right testing is selected, the results of the gene sequencing won’t be able to help the doctors to take clinical actions that will benefit the patients.

In some cases, only a few genes are tested. For example, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are tested for the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. In many other cases, multiple genes (a multigene panel) are sequenced to identify the mutated genes that drive the cancer’s growth and could be used as drug targets. In recent studies, scientists found out that multigene panel test has certain advantages over the single or double gene test to provide more clinical information in certain circumstances. Patients should talk to their doctors to know if a multigene panel test should be taken under their conditions.

Most of the gene sequencing test are performed on patients’ tumor samples obtained from the biopsy or surgery. As the procedure of pre-sequencing preparation of the samples is difficult to be standardized, the quality of gene sequencing result depends heavily on the depth of each sequencing test. Many currently available gene sequencing tests are performed only at the depth of 100 -250. According to the researchers, the sequencing test has to be at the depth of at least 500 to avoid missing important rare mutations in tumors, including those emerging mutations that may be indicative of drug resistance. Patients should ask their doctors if the gene sequencing tests prescribed to them will have a depth of at least 500 before getting the test done.



Read more

Women in Science – Dr. Sujuan Ba – CRS Luncheon 2011

NFCR’s  Dr. Sujuan Ba Energizes Women in Science at CRS Annual Luncheon

sujuanbaAugust 2011 –Sujuan Ba, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer of the National Foundation for Cancer Research, was the featured speaker at the  Controlled Release Society (CRS) Women in Science Forum Luncheon.  Dr. Ba described her tenacious climb through the pharmaceutical and scientific fields, arriving at her current position where she oversees NFCR’s organizational strategic and tactical operations, fundraising and partnership development, and financial planning and management. Dr. Ba’s talk, entitled “Forging a Path on the Road Less Traveled By a Scientist,” included segments on her establishment of a powerful network of research centers and laboratories in the United States, Europe, and Asia – a network which has enabled NFCR Scientists to focus on critical aspects of cancer research.

Dr. Ba was selected by CRS for her innovative and collaborative approach to merging scientific thought with an entrepreneurial spirit.  She encouraged the attendees to never stop learning and to continue to look for the next opportunity for growth, while outlining the key skills necessary for women to succeed in science.  The talk was part of the 38th Annual Meeting & Exposition of the Controlled Release Society, held on July 30 – August 3, 2011 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.  The event was sponsored by Roche.

The Controlled Release Society (CRS) is the premier society worldwide for delivery science and technology. More information on Dr. Ba can be found on their website.

2016 Update: Dr. Sujuan Ba continues to forge paths on the road less traveled by a scientist.
She has since been promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer at NFCR. As a woman in the executive suite as well as an entrepreneur, Dr. Ba continuously innovates.  She continues to work collaboratively across cultures and countries in a tireless effort to disrupt cancer’s deadly path. When President Barack Obama announced a new cancer moonshot during his State of the Union Address January 12,2016, NFCR was already well positioned to be available to help on the international cancer research platform due to the GBM-AGILE initiative and her already established science connections in China.

Read more

How To Talk to Kids About Cancer

Of the many questions we get asked, among the most difficult is the question, “How do I talk to my child about cancer?”

Cancer is not contagious. Cancer is also not a singular disease but any of a group of medical issues that begin with abnormal cell growth. We can talk about cancer in entirely new ways because we have learned so much more about cells and genes since genome sequencing has become possible, As a result, It is no longer where the cancer is (as in lung, pancreas, brain) but what it is. By understanding what type of tumor or cell characteristics exist, doctors can make better decisions. The more genes we can sequence and test our data against, the better the chances of a good outcome. Big data, large data repositories make a difference.

talk about the Alphabet soup of drugs and chemicals (photo)

talk about the alphabet soup of drugs and chemicals

Today, cancer is still fought primarily through surgery, chemo and radiation but also, because of cancer research and computer tools, more targeted therapies are possible. Precision Medicine is that area of treatment that focuses precisely on a cancer based on its characteristics. More survivors, more solutions through research.

We have found some really good pages on the web, written for children, to answer their questions. You can help them understand what cancer is and how to talk about it by checking out some of these resources.


BIOLOGY FOR KIDS:  What is cancer? Here are some simple easy explanations

FOR YOUNGER KIDS:  We recommend: Wonderopolis – Have you ever wondered “what is cancer?” What are tumors? What is metastasis?  They give great answers

FOR HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC KIDS WHO WANT FACTS: This adult presentation answers the unasked question – are all tumors cancerous? (No!) and it provides simple visuals and language to explain the very scary brain cancers

Have you found other materials, resources and words that help you talk to children about cancer?  Please share them with us. We will help compile and pass along the information to others in need.

Read more

Honoring Rakesh K Jain, Ph.D. NFCR funded Scientist

We are so pleased to congratulate National Foundation for Cancer Research funded Scientist Rakesh K. Jain Ph.D. on his tribute event today in Cambridge Massachusetts. A great honor to be feted by his collaborators, peers and fellow scientists and educators  at Harvard Medical School and the  E.L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.. Dr. Jain first received funding from NFCR in Fiscal year 1998. He was a project Director from 1998-2013 and was elevated to NFCR Fellow in 2014.

We are honored and humbled by Dr. Rakesh Jain’s comments on how NFCR cancer research funding has made a difference in his work. We congratulate him as the 2016 Laureate of the National Medal of Science. His seminal cancer research demonstrated that anti-angiogenic therapy works by normalizing the abnormal, leaky vessels that usually surround and penetrate tumors. His discoveries deliver benefits from bench to bedside.

Here is a more technical excerpt of his work as it appears in our Annual Report:

Research Focus: Attacking Brain Tumor Blood Vessels
Dr. Jain is a leader in the field of anti-angiogenic therapy. His seminal research demonstrated that anti-angiogenic therapy works by normalizing the abnormal, leaky vessels that usually surround and penetrate tumors. This process both improves delivery of chemotherapy drugs and increases the oxygen content of cancer cells, making radiation therapy more effective. Dr. Jain is now focused on the role of angiogenesis in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). By identifying the characteristics that confer resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy in GBM patients, Dr. Jain’s research is helping doctors to better tailor the use of anti-angiogenic therapies for GBM patients in the clinics. Additionally, the molecular resistance pathways that Dr. Jain and his team identify will direct the development of novel agents targeting these pathways, which could extend the benefits of anti-angiogenic therapy for patients.

A forty year journey. Dedication, investigation and discovery and painstaking persistence. Dr. Jain, we at NFCR salute you and your work. Congratulations on all the recognition –  well deserved. We have updated this post and are providing a photo slide show for all to enjoy of the event in Cambridge. NFCR’s.Chief collaboration Officer Michael Wang and CEO Franklin Salisbury were in attendance.

Click this link to see the slide show. Photography courtesy of Keith Spiro Media

invite graphic

Read more

Boston Cannons to Help The National Foundation for Cancer Research

Boston Cannons to Help The National Foundation for Cancer Research with a Special Play4TheCure® Game Night on June 23, 2016help NFCR via Boston Cannons“Cannons Fighting Cancer” will mobilize the lacrosse community to recognize inspirational individuals and raise funds for organizations instrumental in the fight against cancer

 Bethesda, MD –  June 10, 2016 The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) is proud to welcome The Boston Cannons as the first Major League Lacrosse team to step up and  Play 4 the Cure®.

The Boston Cannons will host their inaugural “Cannons Fighting Cancer” initiative at the team’s home game on June 23 at Harvard Stadium against the Chesapeake Bayhawks. Cannons Fighting Cancer will unite the lacrosse, medical and research communities to raise funds and awareness for philanthropic and research organizations that are focused on finding a cure for cancer and providing services, support and care for individuals and families who are impacted by the disease. The Cannons have partnered with The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) and its Play4theCure® platform as the primary beneficiary for this special game night.

Cannons Fighting Cancer will bring together and honor members of the Greater Boston medical, science, philanthropic, survivor and lacrosse communities for their continuous efforts in the fight against cancer. Cannons fans can nominate inspirational individuals making an impact against cancer to be recognized at the game by sharing their story on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #CannonsFightingCancer. Nominations can also be emailed to

“It brings great pride that our organization is able to gather the lacrosse community together with members of the medical and research communities to support those who are helping to combat this disease,” said President of the Boston Cannons, Ian Frenette. “We want to honor those who are making a difference in the fight cancer and raise funds for organizations that are working diligently to find a cure.”

The Boston Cannons and The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) are also encouraging the Greater Boston and New England lacrosse community to get involved with Cannons Fighting Cancer through NFCR’s Play4theCure® initiative, which delivers much needed funding toward Cancer Fighting Labs in Boston. Participating teams will have the opportunity to win Cannons prizes for their fundraising efforts. Lacrosse teams can register to Play4theCure® by visiting

Non-lacrosse players can also get involved in Cannons Fighting Cancer by supporting a Play4theCure® team or donating directly to Play4theCure® with the Boston Cannons through the Cannons website and at

“We are so grateful for this opportunity to partner with the Boston Cannons to shine a bright light on the cutting edge cancer research being done in laboratories in greater Boston,” said Dave Bjork, Cancer Research Evangelist for NFCR. “As the first professional sports franchise to #Play4TheCure, the Cannons are taking a leadership position in raising much needed funding and awareness of the Boston medical and research community.”

For more information about Cannons Fighting Cancer and how to get involved, please visit

About the Boston Cannons

The Boston Cannons are one of the founding franchises of Major League Lacrosse, the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league. They began play in June 2001 and won their first MLL Championship on August 28, 2011. For their 16th season, the Cannons will host seven home games back at Harvard Stadium under the leadership of new Head Coach, Sean Quirk. With nine teams competing in 2016, each team will have an additional bye week, and will also play two games over a four-day span once during the season. For more information, call the front office at 617-746-9933 or visit

About NFCR

For more than 43 years, the National Foundation for Cancer Research has focused attention on areas of cancer research that show promise but would otherwise go unfunded. NFCR is dedicated to supporting high risk/high reward cancer research and public education relating to prevention, early diagnosis, better treatments and, ultimately, a cure for all types of cancer.

Contacts:  Rachel Murphy, Boston Cannons: 603-988-2861 or
Kevin Flight, Elevate Communications: 781-439-7140 or
NFCR: 301-654-1250 ask for Play4theCure or
Keith Spiro, KeithSpiroMedia: 617-249-4380 or


Read more

Carmen Rice’s story couldn’t wait for a moonshot

“I have found the National Foundation for Cancer Research team to be dedicated and caring, I have been treated as part of their family.  I feel privileged to have met them.  I know that one day my fine and dedicated family will find a cure for glioblastoma and many other cancers and save the lives of people like me.  I am delighted to know that they work on a global scale to find a cure for glioblastoma.  They give me hope and inspiration to move forward!”    

Long before there were moonshots, NFCR was there funding the earliest stage – seed funding- that paved the way for the victories that we witness today

The miracle of Carmen’s survival is what NFCR supported scientists are working to secure for every patient. Carmen Rice and her husband Darrell discuss the diagnosis that changed their life forever: Glioblastoma (GBM). Now a new generation of moonshot focus on GBM and other cancers are starting to take place. President Obama, and Vice President Biden are bringing new focus to the issues but it is still Basic Laboratory science- the freedom to explore a hunch, sometimes without a product in mind, that is the venture science that is needed to create miracles. This is the power of NFCR’s more than four decades supporting #Research4aCure

National Cancer Survivor Day – June 2016 – we salute Carmen Rice….once again!
Her courage and her willingness to speak up for NFCR and cancer research makes us proud.

Read more

WE ARE THE HERETICS: Sequence that cancer!

WE ARE THE HERETICS:  Sequence that cancer!

Heretic: someone who believes or teaches something that goes against accepted or official beliefs

Here’s an important question: Did your friend’s oncologists sequence their cancer?

You’ve heard a lot about targeted cancer therapies recently.  This is all about molecular profiling, i.e., identifying genetic mutations on a cancer that tell the cell how much and how fast to grow. Sometimes the cancer cells have too many copies of these genes with abnormalities. When there are too many copies of these genes, doctors refer to it as “overexpression.” With some forms of gene overexpression, cancer cells will make too many of the proteins that control cell growth and division, causing the cancer to grow and spread.

An example of this is how some cancer cells make (overexpress) too many copies of a particular gene known as HER2. The HER2 gene makes a protein known as a HER2 receptor. HER2 receptors are like ears, or antennae, on the surface of all cells. These HER2 receptors receive signals that stimulate the cell to grow and multiply. But cancer cells with too many HER2 receptors can pick up too many growth signals and so start growing and multiplying too much and too fast. Cancer cells that overexpress the HER2 gene are said to be HER2-positive.

Herceptin works by attaching itself to the HER2 receptors on the surface of cancer cells and blocking them from receiving growth signals. By blocking the signals, Herceptin can slow or stop the growth of cancers that express the HER2 molecule. Herceptin is an example of an immune targeted therapy. In addition to blocking HER2 receptors, Herceptin can also help fight cancer by alerting the immune system to destroy cancer cells onto which it is attached.

Notice I didn’t say anything about breast cancer.  Or lung cancer.

21st Century cancer treatments don’t have anything to do with where the cancers are located.  Even though the FDA approved Herceptin as a breast cancer treatment, Herceptin has nothing to do with breast cancer.  Herceptin targets the HER2 molecule and it will work on any cancer that expresses the HER2 growth factor receptor.   Many lung cancer patient’s cancers express another growth factor receptor, the so-called Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) mutation. And while not all lung cancers carry the EGFR mutation, those that do are sensitive to two drugs that target the EGFR enzyme: Genentech’s Tarceva, and AstraZeneca’s Iressa.

A raft of clinical trials are under way exploring how to capitalize on these findings. Most of them are using Tarceva or Iressa in combination with different chemotherapeutic agents. We have identified 400+ unique genes known to play a role in the initiation and progression of many different cancers, and we are making new discoveries about the significance of these changes almost every day.

For patients and healthcare professionals, genomic insights are helping to transform the way cancer is treated. One-size-fits-all treatment approaches are being replaced by more targeted, personalized approaches. And for certain types of cancer, we can now identify specific genetic and genomic drivers of an individual patient’s disease.

By sequencing your friend’s cancer, the oncologists will have access to genetic and genomic information to match the cancer with a cancer treatment designed to target their specific cancer.  NFCR has funded the scientists who are making all this happen. I am working closely with Dan Von Hoff, co-founder of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) who developed Tarceva; with Dan Haber who is Director of the MGH Cancer Center, and with Raju Kucherlapati, first Scientific Director of the Harvard Medical School-Partners Healthcare Center for Genetics and Genomics.

I ask you about whether your friend’s oncologist had sequenced his tumor?

There are new companies and tests emerging that can rapidly turnaround fast answers to a large array of questions.

(adopted from a letter by NFCR CEO Franklin Salisbury June 2016, after the Albert Szent Gyorgyi prize was awarded to Mary Claire King, PhD.)

Read more

The First Successful Clinical Trial

Clinical Trial and translational medicine. Our CEO and son of the Founder of NFCR likes to talk history. Franklin C. Salisbury, Jr. notes the coincidence, perhaps, that the Salisbury name has long been associated with unheralded basic research that leads to major breakthroughs. Clinical trial and translational medicine –  bring work from lab to patient bedside and is not really a new trend.

HMS Salisbury site of first clinical trialThe HMS Salisbury was a 50 gun British Warship, built at East Cowes, Isle of Wight and launched  on January 29, 1746.  James Lind was the Royal Navy surgeon who studied treatments for scurvy “on board the Salisbury at sea” in 1747.1747 year of the first ever clinical trial

We all remember the story that lemons and oranges cured scurvy and was discovered aboard a navy vessel  but who besides our Franklin would think to connect HMS Salisbury with clinical trials done today. And yet, the comparison is an important one.

The Salisbury  was said to have some 30-40 members of the crew afflicted by scurvy.  “Yet the roll call shows at most one or two as sick during this entire voyage on which six men “departed this life”. This suggests a culture of official denial of sickness at sea, one of many possible reasons, perhaps, why Lind’s work was neglected says Graham Sutton in his essay James Lind aboard Salisbury (Sutton G (2004) James Lind aboard Salisbury)

Official Denial is an interesting phrase. One perhaps that has a place today in our world of blockbuster breakthroughs.There is an interesting bridge between Salisbury, Scurvy, Citrus, Vitamin C and the cancer research supported by NFCR. That connection is Albert Szent-Györgyi.

He was the co-founder of NFCR along with Franklin Salisbury’s dad. Szent-Györgyi was credited with discovering Vitamin C and received the Nobel Prize in 1937. He went on to state his belief that” Cancer is a disease that can be cured,” and the rest is history. For more than 43 years NFCR has been supporting basic lab research into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer.  The Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research is named in honor of Doctor Albert Szent-Györgyi and is a symbol of NFCR’s enduring commitment to uphold Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s vision of curing cancer through innovation and collaboration.

NFCR funded scientists can attest to the need for long term support of basic research. Today’s breakthroughs are often the result of decades of meticulous work built on the work of previous generations. Clinical trial make a difference.   The two men on board the Salisbury that were assigned to the citrus fruit treatment recovered. So too is our hope that those who participate in today’s clinical trials are the lucky ones.


Read more

CFC – Combined Federal Campaign

NFCR_CFC CFC combined federal campaign logo

It’s never too soon to think about the Combined Federal Campaign CFC annual fall drive. If you’d like to volunteer to help us spread the word contact Elaine here or call 301-654-1250

Our 5 digit code is 11267     Our EIN is 04-253 1031

The National Foundation for Cancer Research has been a long standing active charity on the CFC.  We work diligently to insure that seed funding reaches promising, incredibly hard working cancer research scientists. And, If you are a federal employee of  Asian American descent, or have friends who are, please refer them to a presentation by Dr. Sujuan Ba and check out for yourself, NFCR’s cancer prevention tips within her slideshow presentation. These cancer prevention tips are universal in value.

Donations via CFC help. We have a Science Advisory Board (SAB) that insures the most promising work gets funding. We track and highlight their results in our annual report and news updates. This SAB is also responsible for the coveted annual award of the Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research

Here’s last year’s snapshot of our page on your CFC Charity Finder Page:

NFCR approved CFC listing

As a leading charity driving donations to #Research4aCure NFCR knows how painstakingly difficult this work is.

We are so proud that the CFC has been allowing Federal employees to direct funds to cancer research charities since our earliest days. Your parents donations are what delivered the breakthroughs that you hear about today. These terms you see in the news, like moonshot, precision medicine and genome (gene) sequencing start in laboratories like the ones we fund. The money you donate today can see results that will help your children and grandchildren in the future.

Speaking of kids, NFCR has a signature program called Play4TheCure  This is a program that promotes teamwork and youth sports to raise funds for research. Parents and kids can organize their team to dedicate a single game or a whole season to raising awareness and funds for Research. The kids can only do so much – so give us a call if you’d like to organize a game for your group.

We also have specific designation programs you might want to consider in or outside of the CFC:

Honor and Remember                  Donate a no longer needed car

Thank you for your consideration and support.

Read more

Mary-Claire King, @UW 2016 Szent-Györgyi Prize


MCK ResizedThe National Press Club was the setting for the award ceremony recognizing Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., University of Washington professor of medicine and genome sciences as the 2016 recipient of the Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research presented annually by The National Foundation for Cancer Research.  This year’s prize recognizes Dr. King’s pioneering research that clearly demonstrated the genetic causes of breast and ovarian cancers by identifying the BRCA1 gene and its cancer-related mutations.

The dinner celebration featured a rare opportunity to hear from and ask questions of an esteemed panel.  Moderated by last year’s prize winner Dr. Fred Alt of Boston Children’s hospital, Dr. King was joined on stage by Webster K. Cavenee, Ph.D., Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego Branch, Susan Band Horwitz, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Craig B. Thompson, M.D., CEO of The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Mary-Claire King’s discoveries represent a fundamental step in the understanding of cancer and have changed the face of cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment. This has led to the genotype-based breast cancer screening practice that can identify individuals who have inherited mutations in BRCA1 and give them a chance to take preventive measures at an early stage of their lives.

About the Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research

The Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research was established by the National Foundation for Cancer Research in honor of its co-founder, Albert Szent-Györgyi, M.D., Ph.D., recipient of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.

The 2016 Szent-Györgyi Prize Selection Committee was chaired by Fred Alt, Ph.D. and co-chaired by Sujuan Ba, Ph.D.  Other selection committee members included leaders in cancer research and drug development from academic institutes and biotech and pharmaceutical industries: Webster K. Cavenee, Ph.D., Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Sara A. Courtneidge, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University;  Carlo M. Croce, M.D., The Ohio State University; Richard Gaynor, M.D., Eli Lilly; Susan B. Horwitz, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University; Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School; Alex Matter, M.D., Experimental Therapeutics Center & D3, A*STAR, Singapore; Philip Tsichlis, M.D., Tufts University School of Medicine; Peter K. Vogt, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute; Irving L. Weissman, M.D., Stanford University; Qimin Zhan, M.D., Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, China; and General Secretary Yi Michael Wang, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, NFCR.

About Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.

Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., is American Cancer Society Research Professor of Genetics and Medicine (Medical Genetics) at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In 1990, Mary-Claire King demonstrated that a single gene on chromosome 17q21 (which she named BRCA1) was responsible for breast and ovarian cancer in many families. Her discovery of BRCA1 and the approach she developed to identify this cancer gene has since proven valuable and revolutionized the study of numerous other inherited genetic diseases and conditions.

She has served on the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the President’s Cancer Panel, the advisory board of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health and many NIH study sections. Abroad, she has carried out DNA identifications for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal. Her lab continues to provide genetic identification services and currently serves as the DNA identification base for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunals.

Dr. King has won numerous awards and honors throughout her career. Most recently the 2015 National Medal of Science. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

About the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR)

Dedicated to funding cancer research and public education relating to cancer prevention, earlier diagnosis, better treatments and, ultimately, cures for cancer, NFCR has provided more than $330 million in direct support of discovery-oriented cancer research focused on understanding how and why cells become cancerous, and on public education relating to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. NFCR is about Research for a Cure—cures for all types of cancer.  For more information, please visit

Read more