progress in cancer research Archives - NFCR

progress in cancer research

Holiday Lights for Cancer Research

One Family’s Amazing Fundraising Efforts Light Up an Entire Community

Pete and Sherri Kimbell have a holiday tradition in Indian Trail, NC that delights their community and raises money for the National Foundation for Cancer Research. By combining their sparkling lights display with their sparkling personalities, they have raised over $15,000 for NFCR so far.

Joan’s Story


Photo: (left to right) Sherri, Joan and Pete Kimbell

In 2012, Pete’s mother, Joan, was unfortunately diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. But earlier that year, Pete, an IT Manager and Sherri, a receptionist for a local dermatologist, decided to combine their talents and create an amazing holiday light display to wow their friends and neighbors. So, while Joan’s diagnosis was troubling, it led to a new undertaking – a light-display fundraiser.

The family was fortunate – a drug was available to arrest the growth of Joan’s tumor. And, after conducting their own research, the Kimbells learned that this particular drug was created as a result of a scientist’s work funded by the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Because of this, the couple decided 100% of the money they collect during the light display would go to NFCR. Donations like this enable NFCR to continue funding pancreatic cancer research and find the most effective treatments for patients like Joan.

A Dazzling Display

Now in its fifth year, Pete and Sherri’s light display includes over 45,000 individual LED lights and uses nearly 140,000 channels of electricity. The LED lights are individually controlled and every bulb can change color. Onlookers view changing flashes of color that are swept across the couple’s house in all types of patterns and styles synchronized to upbeat holiday tunes.

The annual display begins taking shape in September and, as Peter and Sherri set up, they include new display items they have been hand building throughout the year. Pete is the tireless engineer behind this enterprise, but he gushes about his wife. “Sherri is the creative force; she keeps me in line and reminds me not to go overboard,” says Pete. It’s clear that love, effort and ingenuity come together to create this memorable experience.

What a Bright Time, It’s the Right Time, to Rock the Night Away

Situated on a lovely cul-de-sac, the Kimbells’ illuminated home attracts people from miles away and shines a much-needed light on cancer research. The cars, bursting with family members, flock to the repeating 20-minute display that is synchronized to carefully-selected familiar music and eagerly anticipate what the Kimbells have dreamt up this year.

People are willing to wait for an hour because they know they will not be disappointed. Pete and Sherri greet every visitor personally and enthusiastically hand out candy canes. The candy-cane method allows the couple to count how many people attended –  in 2015, it was more than 5,000! Local nursing homes bring residents in buses and these seniors often get out for a closer look and share stories about how cancer has affected their families. Quite often, spontaneous dancing ensues!

Pete and Sherri never expected their light display would become such a beloved and well-attended attraction. They have created a local tradition and have become significant contributors to cancer research. The icing on the cake? Nobody enjoys the light display more than Joan, the original inspiration for this fundraising effort.

Visit or Support in 2017

The Kimbell’s Garden Oak Holiday Lights will be on display from November 25, 2017, to December 31, 2017. You can visit on school nights from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm and
all other nights from 6:00 pm until 10:00 pm

4026 Garden Oak Drive, Indian Trail, NC  28079

To learn more about this wonderful light display and/or make a donation, please visit the website


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7 Facts You Need to Know About Lung Cancer

With lung cancer continuing to affect the lives of so many people, it’s important to understand the disease and what we can do to improve our chances of beating it.


  • In the United States, an estimated 222,500 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.
  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women.
  • More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, as it claims nearly 160,000 lives every year.

Here’s a list of seven facts you need to know about lung cancer. (And make sure you read about related work by NFCR-funded scientists Dr. Daniel Haber and Dr. Alice Shaw)

1. Targeted therapies are showing great promise in treating lung cancer.

If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, talk to your doctor about comprehensive genomic tumor testing. It is best to have this discussion before the initial biopsy, but it is never too late to discuss this with your doctor.

2. CT screenings can save lives.

Get screened using a low-dose CT scan- it’s the only proven effective way to screen for lung cancer.  X-rays do not detect lung cancer at it’s earliest of stages.

3. Smoking is the #1 risk factor….

Cigarette smoking is the #1 risk factor for lung cancer.  Smoking cigars, pipes and hooka also increases your risk.  If you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing lung may be up to 25 times higher than someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years.

In addition to causing cancer, smoking damages nearly every organ and organ system in your body.  Consider taking part in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 16, 2017.  Talk to your doctor about strategies or stop-smoking aids that can help you quit.

4. …But, be aware, nonsmokers can get lung cancer too.

Roughly 10 to 15 percent of lung cancer cases occur in non-smokers.  Risk factors include:  exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke, carcinogens like asbestos or diesel exhaust, air pollution and even gene mutations.

5. There are identifiable warning signs that can lead to early diagnosis.

Only 16% of people with lung cancer will be diagnosed when at the earliest stage, when the disease is most treatable.  If you are experiencing a chronic cough, coughing up blood, hoarseness, wheezing, frequent shortness of breath, chest pain, bone pain, or unexplained weight loss, talk to your doctor right away.

Also talk to your doctor if you have a family history of lung cancer – especially a parent or sibling.

6. There are different types of lung cancer. 

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, making up 80-85% of all cases.   Adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and large cell neuroendocrine tumors are considered to be part of this group.

Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) makes up 15-20% of all lung cancer cases.  This is a fast-growing cancer that spreads rapidly to other parts of the body.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of organs and can originate in the lungs or the abdomen, heart, and chest.  It is associated with exposure to asbestos.

Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor that can originate in the lungs or small intestine.

7. Cutting-Edge research helps us attack lung cancer head on.

NFCR-funded scientists are working around-the-clock on projects that can help us attack lung cancer. For example, in July, the FDA approved the drug Iressa® as front-line treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The approval is extended to only those patients whose tumors contain specific mutations, which were originally identified by NFCR scientist Dr. Daniel Haber. 

Also, thanks to NFCR-funded research by Dr. Alice Shaw, a new and better way to treat resistant cancers is emerging. By successfully identifying drug combinations that halted the growth of resistant cells in tumor models, her research will hopefully lead to the development of effective therapeutic strategies for patients with ALK-positive NSCLC (mutations in the ALK gene), which could be clinically tested within one to two years.

Read about NFCR supporters that help fund Dr. Shaw’s research projects.

This blog was originally published on November17, 2016

Please show your support by spreading awareness AND by taking action against the disease.

Support cancer research.  Without funding, we are not able to sustain our efforts to find a cure for lung cancer and all cancers.

Supporters’ Story

The Hillsberg Lung Cancer Translational Research Grant

Each year, about 8,000 patients in the United States and 40,000 worldwide are diagnosed with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). And while patients typically respond well initially to targeted ALK-inhibitor therapy, unfortunately, almost all patients eventually develop resistance to these drugs and their disease progresses.

The lack of clinical development to address this issue caught the attention of two NFCR donors, Sanford and Penny Hillsberg, who are long-time supporters of cancer research.  They were determined to take action to solve this particular drug resistance problem. They turned to NFCR and established a donor-initiated research fund in 2013 to support promising research in this critical field.  Their biggest hope is that their partnership with NFCR will help accelerate the clinical development of new and effective treatments for those who have already run out of options for their resistant lung cancer.

“We are so happy to be part of this important research effort,” said Mr. Hillsberg.  “We have worked with NFCR for years, and we know their excellent track record of supporting high-quality science. That’s why we were excited to participate in their donor-initiated research model, which matched our interest in translational lung cancer research with some of the best scientists in the world. We know these efforts will benefit patients fighting cancer, and we are fully committed to continuing our support of the excellent translational lung cancer projects at NFCR.”

If you, too, are interested in establishing a donor-initiated research fund at NFCR, call us at 1-800-321-CURE (2873).

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6 Facts You Need to Know About Kidney Cancer

March is National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month and, as this disease continues affecting the lives of so many people every year, it’s important to understand it.


  • Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women.
  • In the United States, an estimated 63,990 people will be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year.
  • While the number of people diagnosed with kidney cancer has been slowly rising since the 1990’s, the death rate has been slowly declining.
  • The overall (all stages included) five-year survival rate for people with kidney cancer is 74%.[i]

Here’s a list of six facts you need to know about kidney cancer. And make sure you read about related work by NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Wayne Marasco.

1. Men are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer.

An estimated 40,610 men and 23,380 women in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year.[ii] That means nearly twice as many men will be diagnosed! Yet the exact reasons for this difference are unknown. Possible factors include higher levels of chemical exposure and higher smoking rates. Men are more likely to be smokers and are more likely to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals at work.[iii]

2. Kidney cancer most often occurs in people over age 55.

The risk for developing kidney cancer increases with age and the average age of diagnosis is 64 years old. Although kidney cancer is very uncommon in people younger than age 45, there is a type of kidney cancer, known as Wilms tumors, that tends to affect children. About 5% of all cancers in children are Wilms tumors.[iv]

3. Smoking and other factors increase risk.

Smoking has been linked with as many as one third of all kidney cancer cases.[v] And if you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing kidney cancer is twice as high as someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years.

Other major risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure and exposure to chemicals like asbestos and cadmium. In addition, people who receive long-term dialysis to treat kidney failure have a higher risk of developing kidney cancer.

4. Pay close attention to your family history.

Your family history may predispose you to kidney cancer. If you have a first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister or child) who was diagnosed with kidney cancer, you are at increased risk of developing the disease. This risk is highest for brothers or sisters of those with the cancer.[vi]

Also, people born with certain inherited syndromes may have an increased risk of kidney cancer, including those who have von Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, tuberous sclerosis and familial papillary renal cell carcinoma.

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

Like lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer, kidney cancer rarely causes signs or symptoms in its early stages.

Possible warning signs or symptoms may include: blood in your urine (this may be painless and appear one day and not the next); back pain just below the ribs that doesn’t go away and was not caused by injury; weight loss; fatigue; or intermittent fever. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

6. Cutting-edge research is helping us attack kidney cancer head on.

Battling Renal Cell Carcinoma with Mabs

For cancer, as well as HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, one possible treatment involves the use of human monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) – which are proteins that scientists develop to bind to only one substance. For cancer treatments, Mabs bind only to cancer cells and produce immunological responses against the cancer cells. There is great promise with Mabs because their tumor-fighting effects would be less harmful to normal cells than that of traditional cancer treatments.

In an effort to greatly expand the use of Mabs in the treatment of cancer, Dr. Wayne Marasco— a world-renowned antibody engineering expert who works on infectious diseases and cancer immunotherapies — and NFCR joined forces to create the NFCR Center for Therapeutic Antibody Engineering. At the Center, Dr. Marasco collaborates with accomplished global cancer investigators in a joint effort to uncover new Mabs using his laboratory’s huge human antibody library.

Most recently, his team at the NFCR Center developed a combination immunotherapy treatment that holds promise for treating metastatic kidney cancer more effectively. The immunotherapy they have engineered includes not only the CAIX antibody that detects and binds to CAIX growth-promoting proteins on cancerous kidney cells, but also unblocks T cells to enable more rigorous attacks against cancer. Moreover, this double treatment approach could be adapted to treat advanced colon, breast, brain and other difficult-to-treat solid cancers using different antibodies.


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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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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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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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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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Get Even MORE Airline Miles Today!

Where will you be frolicking this fall?  Let our airlines miles program help you get there!

What is Fly to Find A Cure?

Fly to Find A Cure is a program of the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) aimed at raising crucial funds to accelerate vital can
cer research projects.  For every dollar donated, you earn airline mileage from your choice of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan®, American Airlines AAdvantage®, United MileagePlus® or Delta SkyMiles®.  A major portion of your gift is tax deductible.  This is also a great way to keep an account active.  Fly to Find A Cure miles can even be given as a gift to family or friends.

What is
Fly to Find A Cure’s Fall Bonus Miles Program?

Now through October 15th, Fly to Find A Cure’s Fall Bonus Miles Program allows you to earn up to 15 miles per dollar (instead of our usual 10) while supporting groundbreaking cancer research.  This provides a win-win opportunity for travelers who care about putting an end to this dreaded disease.

Together We Can Put an End to Cancer

The statistics are staggering: 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. This means that cancer will very likely affect each and every one of us at some point in our lives — whether it is through our own personal diagnosis or through that of someone we love.   The only way to stop cancer is to cure it – through research.

Give a generous gift today to help find a cure for cancer and you’ll be that much closer to taking the trip you’ve dreamed about!

“Cancer is a disease that can be cured…” – Nobel Laureate and National Foundation for Cancer Reserarch Co-Founder Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi

american-milesAward Scale: Up to 15 miles per dollar with a donation of $100 or more
Fair Market Value: $0.022575 per mile
Mileage Cap: 1 million miles per account per rolling year

Click here to donate 

united_mileage_plus_3p_4c_r2Award Scale: Up to 13.5 miles per dollar with a donation of $100 or more
Fair Market Value: $0.028 per mile
Mileage Cap: 250,000 miles per account per rolling year

Click here to donate

delta-milesAward Scale: Up to 13 miles per dollar with a donation of $100 or more
Fair Market Value: $0.023650 per mile
Mileage Cap: 200,000 miles per account per calendar year

Click here to donate 

Award Scale: Up to 15 miles per dollar with a donation of $100 or more
Fair Market Value: $0.0241875 per mile
Mileage Cap: 1,000,000 miles per account per calendar year

Click here to donate 

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