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National Foundation for cancer research

NFCR’s Genomics Newsroom: Using Molecular Imaging to Guide Cancer Therapy

What is “genomics”?

Cancer develops when genetic material (DNA) becomes damaged or changed. We know some cancer- causing genetic changes are acquired (i.e. smoking), while others are inherited. Studying cancer genomics explores the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. Advances in understanding how cancer behaves at the genomic and molecular level are helping oncologists treat cancer with greater success. This is the key to precision medicine, treating each individual’s cancer as unique.

Guiding Cancer Therapy Using Molecular Imaging

Molecular-genetic imaging (also known as molecular imaging) combines conventional anatomic imaging (MRI, CT, PET or ultrasound) with genomic testing and enables doctors to literally see cancer at its molecular or genetic level. Because of this, molecular imaging has the potential to characterize the genotype and phenotype of cancer as well as predict response rates and likely outcomes to selected treatments… all without the need for tissue samples that would be obtained through surgery or biopsy.

Molecular imaging is emerging as yet another tool doctors can use to help choose the most effective treatment(s) for individual patients.  With molecular imaging, doctors can provide more personalized, effective treatments to their patients.

Genomic Testing

While traditional methods treat cancer based on the body part where the cancer first originated, genomic testing looks at cancer on the gene level. Genomic testing reveals the unique genomic drivers or the driver genes for each patient’s cancer.

When combined with the molecular imaging technology, deeper and more detailed information that is specific to an individual cancer patient could be obtained and analyzed by the oncologists, which empowers them to design optimal, individualized therapies to maximize treatment success.

Click here to learn more about genomic testing.

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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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Sarah’s Story: Dr. Civin’s Cancer Research “Saved My Life”

Sarah’s Story

Sarah Byrd says she owes her life to Dr. Curt Civin, a pediatric oncologist specializing in leukemia research at the University of Maryland whose work is funded by NFCR.

Sarah ByrdSarah, a 35 year old living in Atlanta, is now five years in remission from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma because of a bone marrow stem cell transplant made possible by Dr. Civin’s work decades before. “It saved my life,” says Sarah, who at one point was in so much pain she begged her doctors to put her in a coma. Thanks to Dr. Civin’s research, today she is not just a survivor, but thriving.

Dr. Civin revolutionized the field of leukemia with his breakthrough discovery of CD34, the first – and still best – marker of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells ever found. His subsequent isolation of CD34+ stem cells opened entirely new approaches to leukemia treatment – leading directly to cures for patients like Sarah. The CD34+ transplantation technology, created by a team of scientists in Dr. Civin’s laboratory, has been widely applied and thousands of patient’s lives have been saved because of this new approach to treating cancer.

Sarah ByrdFor Sarah Byrd, Dr. Civin’s CD34+ stem cell transplant followed rounds of radiation and targeted chemotherapy. It was not an easy procedure to go through, but it was worth the challenges and the effort because, in the end, it was effective. Sarah also understands and explains how it was not only a difficult procedure to endure, but also to develop. “I wasn’t just sitting in a hospital randomly and the drugs just happened to work,” said Sarah. “No. There were tons and tons and tons of effort made to create these specific drugs that saved my life.”

Since the discovery of CD34, and in part because of it, the relative five-year survival rates for all types of leukemia have increased dramatically. Sarah’s life moves forward; she’s currently a store manager at Bottega Veneta. But she’s still fully aware there is so much more to do. “I want there to be a cure,” she says. “Research is everything.”

Today’s Research Will Lead to Tomorrow’s Cure

And now, for so many patients suffering from cancer and still waiting for a cure, Dr. Civin’ current research may once again hold the key. He has recently discovered a new class of cellular molecules called microRNA’s. These tiny bits of RNA – previously thought to be “molecular sawdust” – have been found to play a key role in stopping tumors from forming.

Dr. Curt CivinDr. Civin discovered that MicroRNAs influence which of each cell’s genes are made into proteins. If expressing individual genes can be likened to turning on light switches one at a time, microRNAs can be thought of as flipping circuit breakers, switching on entire buildings at once. In the cancer cell, entire pathways or sets of pathways  involved in cell growth or division can be activated by a single microRNA. A single microRNA may be able to shut down a cancer cell.

And this is research NFCR is funding. Dr. Civin is now focused on one such microRNA, called miR-34. When a mutant cell contains enough miR-34, a molecular self-destruct sequence is initiated that destroys the cell in a process called apoptosis. It has been discovered that miR-34 is absent, or present at only extremely low levels, in most leukemia cells. Dr. Civin’s new research strategy is to restore miR-34 to patients’ leukemia cells and “reset” their normal tumor suppression functions. The hope is that restoring miR-34 could activate the leukemia cells’ own natural machinery to induce their self-destruction.

Innovative Research: From Malaria Treatment to Cancer-Fighting Possibilities

Scouring the libraries and databases of existing clinical drugs, Dr. Civin’s team identified a set of drugs that were able to increase the amount of miR-34 in target cells. The most promising of these drugs came from an unexpected source – the Artemisia annua plant that has been used as a remedy for malaria. Dr. Civin has discovered that these Artemisinins increase the levels of miR-34 in leukemia cells and inhibit their growth. Even more, Dr. Civin has discovered these Artemisinins  can also achieve this result in leukemia cells with the mutant p53 gene — giving hope to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients with the worst prognoses.

Dr. Curt CivinThis could be another breakthrough discovery by Dr. Civin. Artemisinins are the first class of drugs that up-regulate miR-34 in a way that is both independent of p53 and safe for clinical use. Clinical trials testing the efficacy of Artemisinins in AML patients will be underway in the near future, bringing this new treatment into the clinic. Additionally, Dr. Civin is combining Artemisinins with established and emerging anti-leukemia drugs and showing enhanced anti-cancer effects.

What future might Dr. Civin’s research hold? Could this drug or approach be applicable to other types of cancer? Are there other microRNAs that are critical for cancer? Might there be other cancer drugs — safe, effective, and readily available — waiting for scientists like Dr. Civin to repurpose them? With your support and by working together, these questions can be answered. From research discoveries to new treatments, Dr. Civin’s work has both exemplified and advanced the mission of NFCR: Research for a Cure.

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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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NFCR-Funded Scientist Selected as ‘Giant of Cancer Care’

Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, Director of the NFCR Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies at TGen, has been selected as a 2016 Giants of Cancer Care® by OncLive.  Dr. Von Hoff, Physician-In-Chief and Distinguished Professor at TGen, is a world-renowned physician scientist in cancer research. NFCR has been funding Dr. Von Hoff’s research for over thirty years—in fact, provided Dr. Von Hoff with his very first peer-reviewed grant—and has been supporting his pioneering research ever since.


On behalf of NFCR, Chief Science Officer Michael Wang congratulates Dr. Daniel Von Hoff in person on November 11, 2016

“NFCR congratulates Dr. Von Hoff on this honor; he is truly a ‘Giant of Cancer Care,’” said Franklin Salisbury, Jr., NFCR CEO. “We have supported Dr. Von Hoff’s research efforts since 1985 and know he is an extraordinary man and gifted physician scientist whose research represents the future of medicine in which information gleaned from clinical cares can be used to guide research on new treatment development that target deadly tumors, giving new hope to cancer patients worldwide.”

This is Research for a Cure and Dr. Von Hoff is especially appreciative of NFCR. He has said: “[Early in my career,] my NIH grants kept getting turned down; I did not have any way to generate preliminary information and someone from NFCR walked into my office and said that after careful review I had been selected as a young investigator they wanted to support. I would like to say thank you to all of those who have given because it got me started in quite an adventure to try to make a difference for patients.”

Dr. Von Hoff has devoted his career to translational medicine – the movement of new therapies from the research institution to patient care.  In addition to this recent selection, he was honored with the Scripps Genomic Medicine Award in 2011, named one of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 50 Oncology Luminaries in 2014 and among the first class selected in 2013 by the American Association for Cancer Research for its Fellows of the AACR Academy.

von-hoffDr. Von Hoff and his colleagues have conducted early clinical investigations of many new cancer agents, including: gemcitabine, docetaxel, paclitaxel, topotecan, irinotecan, fludarabine, mitoxantrone, dexrazoxane, nab-paclitaxel, vismodegib, and others. These treatments are helping many patients with breast, ovarian, prostate, colon, leukemia, advanced basal cell and pancreatic cancers today.

Reflecting on his 30 year journey with NFCR, Dr. Von Hoff said, “Cancer researchers often receive funding from a number of sources, including the federal government, but the most important money we receive for cancer research comes from the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Without NFCR’s support, some of my research would never have gotten off the ground.”

NFCR is proud to have provided $4.67 million for Dr. Dan Von Hoff’s research that directly and indirectly resulted in many clinically high-impact new therapies which have saved hundreds and thousands of people’s lives.

About the Giants of Cancer Care Award
Now in its fourth year, the Giants of Cancer Care recognition program honors those who have devoted their time, talent and resources to improving care for patients and families who are affected by cancer. Their discoveries have propelled the field forward and established the building blocks for future advances. Recipients demonstrate the qualities of unlimited selflessness, compassion for their patients, and a desire to understand and develop life-changing treatments.  In 2016, a Selection Committee of 80+ eminent oncologists will chose 10 honorees from 10 different tumor types and specialty categories.

About NFCR’s Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies

At the NFCR Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies at TGen, Co-Directors Dr. Daniel Von Hoff and Dr. Laurence Hurley are pioneering new approaches to attack the so-called “undruggable” targets present in many tumors.

The Center is also embarking on an entirely new approach to developing drugs that block newly-recognized genetic structures called “super enhancers.” This approach may lead to great improvements in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer and other cancers.

About National Foundation for Cancer Research

NFCR was founded in 1973 to support cancer research and public education relating to the prevention, early diagnosis, better treatments and ultimately, a cure for cancer.  NFCR promotes and facilitates collaboration among scientists to accelerate the pace of discovery from bench to bedside.  NFCR is committed to Research for a Cure – cures for all types of cancers.

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7 Ways Dogs Help People with Cancer

Dogs are known as “man’s best friend.”  They are loyal companions, always excited to see you, follow your every word and will never desert you.  Simply put, they love you unconditionally and aren’t afraid to show it.  Research now shows there are also health-related benefits to spending time with these adorable, furry, four-legged friends.

1. Dogs can smell cancer.
Canines smell up to 1,000 times more accurately than humans.  In multiple laboratory studies, dogs have been able to detect certain cancers by smelling breath or urine samples.
In one study, a Labrador retriever trained in cancer scent detection correctly identified 91% of breath samples and 97% of stool samples from patients with colon cancer. In another study, a German shepherd identified ovarian cancer malignancies form tissue samples with 90% accuracy.  Dogs might one day be used in conjunction with existing diagnostic tests to detect cancer at its earliest stages when it’s most treatable.

2. Dogs are good for your overall health and heart.

One study
found that people with pets had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure than those without pets. In another study, one year after suffering a heart attack people with dogs were more likely to be alive than those who did not have a dog.

3. Dogs can significantly improve your mood.
Cancer can cause depression and feelings of isolation.  Another study found that cancer patients who spent time with a therapy dog prior to treatment reported improved emotional and social well-being, even while their physical well-being was in decline during chemotherapy.

4. Dogs are good stress relievers.


ICYDK: Dogs can suffer from cancer just like people. November 7th is National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day, a day created to increase awareness and understanding of canine lymphoma. It’s a good time to give your dog an extra hug or belly rub to let them know how special they are.

Going through cancer treatment can be stressful and dogs can provide a welcome distraction. Petting them releases endorphins that relieve stress and improve mood.  This can help patients forget about their pain or frustrations for a period of time.

5. Dogs are great company.
Going through cancer treatment can be a lonely experience.   Even if you have a strong support system, you may not be able to share your inner most feelings with them.  Dogs are always eager to listen… and they know how to keep a secret.

6. Service dogs can aid in recovery and independence.
When most people think of service dogs, they think of guide dogs for the blind.  But medical service dogs can also be trained to bark for help, retrieve a phone, assist in walking, and opening and closing doors.  They can even be trained to pick up dropped items or turn on/off lights and appliances.    This can be especially helpful for cancer patients who have lost a limb or have difficulty getting around as a result of treatment.

7. Walking a dog is great exercise.
dog-cancer-3Adding some form of exercise to your daily routine – even during cancer treatment – will enhance your physical well-being and aid in your recovery.  Cancer can literally be exhausting.  Research has shown that cancer patients who exercise regularly have 40% to 50% less fatigue.  Taking your dog for a walk several times a day provides the perfect amount of moderate exercise needed.

Whether you are a dog owner or have access to therapy dogs at your infusion clinics, dogs have the ability to help people with cancer better cope with their diagnosis, treatment and beyond.

Share with us how your dog helps you get through the day.

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A Loving Tribute to Elmo’s Friends Phyllis and Tony Geiss

A Legacy to Support Cancer Research

geissPhyllis and Tony Geiss lived long and extraordinary lives filled with many accomplishments.  NFCR has been the recipient of a generous gift from the Geiss Estate which will be able to move cancer research forward in a very significant way.  We would like to share with you a window into this inspirational couple’s lives.

Phyllis and Tony were perfectly matched.  Married more than 60 years, both possessed qualities of warmth, modesty, humor and intellect.  For a major anniversary, Tony had a star named for Phyllis in the National Star Registry.  He gave the gift to her with a card that read, “Twinkle, twinkle, little wife.  Thank you for a perfect life!”

Phyllis distinguished herself academically which led to a stellar career in advertising and banking.   A dear friend reflects, “Phyllis was tiny, reserved, and soft-spoken, with an incisive mind and a dry wit.  She delighted in having people over for dinner and throwing large New Year’s parties. Her grateful dinner guests continue to savor the memory of her divine sticky pudding.  She was a creative, original thinker, and although she worked very well in a corporate setting, she was unconstrained by tradition.  Her cousin told of a visit with Phyllis to the Sistine Chapel.  When her cousin said she did not feel she was getting an adequate view of the ceiling by craning her neck, Phyllis pulled her to a place with less traffic and lay down on the floor looking up.  ‘Now we can see it!’”

Loved and esteemed by his colleagues, Tony’s genius lay in entertaining, educating and enchanting children and adults alike.  One of his colleagues tells the story about one of their first meetings as Sesame Street writers: When someone suggested that they “brainstorm,” Tony replied immediately, “Oh–if I had known there would be a brainstorm, I would have worn a braincoat!” If you have been around children at any time since the 1970s, you will undoubtedly have been fondly aware of Tony’s Sesame Street characters, songs and storylines.

For over three decades, Tony’s gifted writing and composing, along with his talent as a lyricist created Elmo’s Song, the Honkers, and Abby Cadabby, among many other memorable characters and familiar songs.  Tony also delighted his audience by co-writing three films: Follow that Bird, The Land Before Time and An American Tail.  The 22 Emmys he helped Sesame Street earn were among many won by the show since it first aired in 1969. Tony gave so much pleasure to so many people that he can truly be named a national treasure.  As of 2009, Sesame Street co-productions were broadcast in more than 140 countries.  Today, it is almost impossible to count the number of children who are enjoying and learning with Sesame Street all around the world!

Phyllis and Tony made their decisions about charitable contributions jointly to reflect their passions and interests.  During their lifetime, they were loyal and generous donors to the National Foundation for Cancer Research and it has been enormously gratifying to learn that they valued our mission to fund innovative cancer research enough to remember us in their estate plans.   Phyllis and Tony Geiss were extremely accomplished individuals, and as a team, their partnership was happy and harmonious. Their philanthropic work will enable NFCR to find new ways to prevent, detect and treat all types of cancer.  NFCR is enormously grateful and honored by their generosity and foresight.   Trustees of the Geiss Estate say “Phyllis and Tony deeply valued worldwide efforts in health care and protecting the environment.  They would have been greatly inspired and gratified to see and advance the work that NFCR is doing to unify discoveries in cancer research around the world and to integrate information on a global scale.”

Learning, having fun, and good health, are vital components for the well-being of anyone, anywhere.  NFCR will honor the Geiss’ generosity by promoting cancer research to ensure that people worldwide can enjoy good health, enabling them to lead productive and joyful lives.

From Elaine Currie, NFCR Donor Relations Officer

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