March 10, 2022

Inspiring Collaboration in Cancer Research: The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Announces 2022 Endeavor Award Recipients

$12M in grants awarded to multi-disciplinary teams tackling some of the toughest challenges in cancer research

NEW YORK, NY, Mar. 10, 2022 — The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research has selected four outstanding scientific research projects to receive $12 million in funding for its 2022 Endeavor Awards. Promoting collaborative science, Endeavor Awards are granted to multi-disciplinary teams pursuing innovative, unique approaches to understand and treat cancer. These four Endeavor teams, which bring together investigators from top cancer research centers across two continents and eight US states, will focus on cutting-edge topics in cancer research including inflammation, the microbiome, metabolism, and the humoral immune system.

“Collaboration is critical to success in science,” said Raymond DuBois, MD, PhD, Executive Chairman of the Board of The Mark Foundation. “We’re confident that the incredible projects selected for Endeavor Awards will have a direct and substantial impact on the lives of cancer patients.” The Mark Foundation Endeavor Awards, launched in 2021, support collaborative research projects that bring together investigators from a wide range of disciplines to tackle the toughest challenges in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The $3 million grants are awarded to teams of three or more investigators to generate and integrate data from diverse lines of research and transform those insights into advances for cancer patients that could not be achieved by individual efforts.

The response to the call for proposals was robust; grantees were selected from nearly two hundred applications received from host institutions around the globe. The Mark Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee, chaired by Ross Levine, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, conducted a rigorous review process, including live interviews with the finalist teams to assess team chemistry and dynamics. “The response to the call for proposals demonstrates the hunger that scientists have for opportunities to work together across disciplines,” said Dr. Levine. “Funding for team science has become increasingly scarce; The Mark Foundation’s Endeavor Awards will serve as a critical resource to transform scientific research into advances for patients.”

In recognition of how The Mark Foundation Endeavor awards foster the formation of strong, multi-disciplinary teams in cancer research, the MacMillan Family Foundation is supporting the Endeavor program by fully funding the work of the Salk Institute Endeavor team, headed by Reuben Shaw, PhD, William R. Brody Chair and director of the Salk’s NCI-designated Cancer Center. “New therapies for difficult-to-treat solid tumors like lung cancer are urgently needed,” said Dr. Shaw. “This Endeavor award will accelerate our efforts to identify novel metabolic targets and develop precision drugs for specific genetic subsets of non-small cell lung cancer.” The MacMillan family’s generous gift reflects their commitment to directly supporting scientists who think creatively to address the needs of cancer patients.

A total of seven Endeavor awards have been granted to date:  three inaugural teams received grants for projects beginning in 2021, in addition to the four newly awarded teams starting in 2022. A new call for proposals for Endeavor teams will be issued in May 2022, with at least three additional awards expected to be granted. This substantial commitment to team science is enabled by the recently announced commitment of Alex Knaster, founder of The Mark Foundation, to fund an additional $500 million of cancer research over the Foundation’s first decade.

Below are the new awardees’ project titles, research teams, and institutions. The first investigator listed has been designated as team lead, and the first location listed is the host institution.

Dissecting Drivers of Inflammation and Clonality in the MDS Microenvironment

  • University of Alabama at Birmingham:  Robert Welner, PhD, and Rui Lu, PhD
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:  Stanley Lee, PhD
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center:  P. Brent Ferrell, MD

 An International, Multicenter Study to Investigate and Validate Microbiome Configurations and Effectors in CD19-Targeted CAR T Cell Efficacy and Toxicity

  • German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ):  Christoph Stein-Thoeringer, MD, and Eran Elinav, MD, PhD
  • H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute:  Michael Jain, MD, PhD, and Marco Davila, MD, PhD
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center:  Robert Jenq, MD

Identification of Metabolic Targets and Vulnerabilities in Genetically-Defined Cohorts of Lung Cancer

  • The Salk Institute for Biological Studies:  Reuben Shaw, PhD, Susan Kaech, PhD, Christian Metallo, PhD, and Alan Saghatelian, PhD

Harnessing Tertiary Lymphoid Structure Function for Improved Immunotherapeutic Strategies in Cancer Patients

  • University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center:  Tullia C. Bruno, PhD
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center:  Tina Cascone, MD, PhD, Kevin McBride, PhD, and Jennifer Wargo, MD, MMSc
  • Yale University School of Medicine:  Nikhil Joshi, PhD, and Aaron Ring, MD, PhD


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. In 2022, The Mark Foundation received an additional $500 million commitment to fund cutting-edge cancer research in the Foundation’s first decade. 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.

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