The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has been behind an extraordinary number of breakthroughs in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. It funds about 200 investigators a year—about 3,750 since it was founded in 1946. Many have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and 12 have been awarded Nobel prizes. They’ve established many “firsts”: the link between cancer and smoking, curing solid tumors with chemotherapy, identifying a cancer-causing gene, demonstrating that a virus can cause cancer, among others. In recent years, they’ve pioneered targeted cancer therapies, checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy, CAR-T cell therapies, cancer vaccines and much more.
To learn about the Foundation’s unique approach to developing cancer cures by supporting young scientists with “brave and bold” ideas, and how people with cancer can benefit from these advances, we spoke with the President and CEO, Yung S. Lie, PhD. The interview explored the colorful history of the organization, the dedication to basic science that has led to major breakthroughs over many decades, the cutting-edge work that is now being funded in many related fields and finally, how anyone with cancer can take advantage of the latest research to get the best care—now. It is divided into three sections.
Section Two: The Next Frontiers in Cancer Therapy