Internationally renowned oncology expert assumes leadership role funding cutting-edge cancer research
The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research today announced that Raymond N. (Ray) DuBois, MD, PhD, will join the organization as Executive Chairman of the Board, a new position leading the board of directors as well as assuming an executive role within the Foundation. Ryan Schoenfeld, PhD, will continue to lead day-to-day operations and scientific research programs, remaining in his current roles as interim CEO and Chief Scientific Officer.
Concurrently, The Mark Foundation announced that its founder Alex Knaster has committed to funding an additional $500 million to cutting-edge cancer research. Together with $150 million already awarded by the Foundation since 2017, Knaster’s total commitment is more than $650 million in the Foundation’s first decade — among the largest ever made by an individual in support of cancer research.
“As The Mark Foundation enters its fifth year supporting groundbreaking cancer research, this funding commitment, together with Ray DuBois’ experience and vision, will be vital in increasing our impact on cancer research and patients’ lives,” Knaster said. “Ray is an internationally recognized leader in cancer research, and The Mark Foundation has an outstanding record funding world class research. It’s a winning combination.”
Knaster, Chairman and CEO of Pamplona Capital Management, established The Mark Foundation in 2017 to support bold, pioneering research with the potential to transform the next generation of treatments and diagnostics for cancer patients. In less than five years, over 200 grants and $150 million have been awarded to individual scientists and teams at more than 80 different academic institutions in the United States and across the globe, and investments totaling over $20 million have been made in seven oncology-focused start-up companies.
“I have been tremendously impressed by The Mark Foundation’s extraordinary progress funding impactful cancer research around the world in just over four years’ time,” said DuBois. “I am acutely aware of the need for this funding which supports innovative projects that may not otherwise move forward. The Mark Foundation is poised to accomplish much more in the coming years with Alex’s generosity.”
Operating on the premise that collaboration, flexibility, and agility are vital to enabling successful research, The Mark Foundation uses its team’s deep scientific and professional experience to identify and fund both academic research and early-stage biotech companies. The Foundation’s mission is to both enable exciting new scientific discoveries, and to help accelerate such discoveries along the often-arduous development path to become new treatments, preventions, and cures for cancer patients.
The Mark Foundation has established a series of bespoke grant programs including the ASPIRE Award, Emerging Leader Award, Drug Discovery Award, and Endeavor Award programs. Three Mark Foundation Centers have been funded as well to support large-scale team science research at University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Cambridge (UK). Awards are rightsized to meet key milestones and range up to $12 million for large multi-year, multi-investigator projects.
In its next phase of growth, The Mark Foundation plans to substantially increase its global reach with $500 million in funding to new cancer research as well as extensions of work already generating early breakthroughs. “Example areas of continued cancer research focus include metastasis, immuno-oncology, artificial intelligence, and drug discovery, all areas requiring substantial appetite for risk and ample creativity to bring together multi-disciplinary teams,” said Schoenfeld. “New areas of research will be selected that seek to answer scientific questions aimed at addressing the most pressing unmet needs for cancer patients. I look forward to working with Ray to move the needle in those critical areas.”
DuBois will assume his role at The Mark Foundation in addition to his current role as Director of MUSC Hollings Cancer Center and Distinguished University Professor at Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). DuBois is an internationally renowned expert known for his work elucidating the role of inflammation and inflammatory mediators in the progression of colon cancer and other gastrointestinal malignancies. He has also served as Dean of the MUSC College of Medicine, and previously held leadership positions as executive director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University with a joint clinical appointment at the Mayo Clinic, provost and executive vice president at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. DuBois is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Gastroenterology Association, and the Royal College of Physicians (London). As a physician scientist, he has published over 160 peer-reviewed research articles, more than 60 review articles, 25 book chapters, and three books.
“I always expected to be patient in seeing clinically impactful results emerge from discoveries funded by The Mark Foundation,” added Knaster. “However, the pace has exceeded my initial goals. I am confident that Ray’s contribution together with this next infusion of funding will enable meaningful improvements in patients’ lives.”
About The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research
The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research actively partners with scientists to accelerate research that will transform the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The Mark Foundation fulfills its mission by supporting groundbreaking science carried out by individual investigators, multi-disciplinary teams, and inter-institutional collaborations in the United States, Europe, and across the globe. Recognizing the obstacles that prevent scientific advances from improving patient outcomes, The Mark Foundation maintains a nimble, high-impact approach to funding cancer research that bridges the gap between bench and bedside through grants and early-stage venture investments.
Since 2017, The Mark Foundation has awarded more than $150 million in grants to enable innovative basic, translational, and clinical cancer research, including drug discovery. The Mark Foundation also has a robust and growing portfolio of investments in oncology companies developing novel therapeutics and diagnostics. Through its research and venture arms, The Mark Foundation supports projects throughout their life cycle to ensure their highest chance of success in impacting the lives of patients with breakthroughs in cancer care.