February 13, 2024

Grantees Selected for The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation Aging and Cancer Initiative

$1.5M awarded to three research teams, one with additional support from the Melanoma Research Alliance

New York, NY – February 13, 2024 – The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) have selected six investigators to receive three grants for their collaborative, two-year program aimed at improving our understanding of the links between aging and cancer. With additional support from the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), $1.5 million will fund three innovative projects, each pairing one lab focused on aging with another working on cancer research.

Aging is a major risk factor for developing and dying of cancer. In fact, 90 percent of cancer diagnoses and deaths occur in people over the age of 50. Furthermore, older patients often experience worse side effects from many current cancer treatments, as well as other possible age-related issues, making treating these patients more complicated. Despite this, specific aging/cancer research is underfunded, and older patients are routinely underrepresented in clinical trials.

“It is crucial to debunk the notion that cancer is a natural consequence of aging and instead invest in specific aging and cancer research that will improve prevention strategies and develop less toxic treatments to benefit all patients,” said Dr. Samuel Waxman, CEO and Founder of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. “I am enthusiastic that this partnership with The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and the grantees we have chosen will make a huge impact in this regard.”

Each collaborative team will receive up to $500,000 over three years, divided between the individual investigators. The funded projects will be subject to an annual peer review by a select committee that comprises scientific leaders from both foundations and grantees will be expected to present their research results, prior to publication, at the SWCRF Scientific Review held every fall. The third year of funding may be possible based on evaluated progress and funds available.

“With life expectancies increasing around the world, the incidence of cancer is rising and expected to grow exponentially. This will take an enormous toll on governments, health care infrastructure, and people’s livelihoods,” added Ryan Schoenfeld, PhD, CEO of The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. “Working together with our partners, we are confident these world-class scientists will deliver promising results from their innovative projects, ultimately helping to improve overall patient outcomes.”

The Samuel Waxman/Mark Foundation Collaboration on Aging and Cancer Program grantees are below.  (Note: For more detailed information, project titles link to the corresponding research portfolio pages on The Mark Foundation website.)

Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, Ph.D., Montefiore Einstein Comprehensive Cancer Center

Ross Levine, M.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Research project: Age-related clonal hematopoiesis as a driver of breast cancer awakening and metastatic relapse


Sandra McAllister, Ph.D, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Kornelia Polyak, M.D., Ph.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Rachel Freedman, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Research project: Improving breast cancer outcomes by understanding how immune age impacts tumor evolution and response to therapy


Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D., John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Arjun Raj, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

*Research project: Spatiotemporal profiling of the aged microenvironment in tumor dormancy and recurrent disease


*The additional contribution from MRA is supporting this project


About the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation:

The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation is an international organization dedicated to curing and preventing cancer. The Foundation is a pioneer in cancer research and its mission is to eradicate cancer by funding cutting-edge research that identifies and corrects abnormal gene function that causes cancer and develops minimally toxic treatments for patients. Through the Foundation’s collaborative group of world-class scientists, the Institute Without Walls, investigators share information and tools to speed the pace of cancer research. Since its inception in 1976, the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation has awarded more than $120 million to support the work of more than 200 researchers across the globe. For more information, visit www.waxmancancer.org

About the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research:  

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, a charitable organization based in New York City, actively partners with scientists around the world to accelerate research that will transform the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.  Since 2017, The Mark Foundation has awarded more than $200 million in grants to over 100 academic institutions across 13 countries, with research programs focusing on early career support, team science collaboration, new technology innovation, and therapeutics discovery.  Additionally, The Mark Foundation maintains a growing portfolio of investments in early-stage cancer diagnostics and therapeutics companies, including several that have transitioned from grantee projects into commercial development.  To learn more please visit www.TheMarkFoundation.org.

About the Melanoma Research Alliance:  

The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) stands as the largest non-profit funder of melanoma research. Founded in 2007 by Debra and Leon Black, MRA’s mission is to end suffering and death due to melanoma by advancing the world’s most promising science and research. MRA provides critical funding for melanoma cancer research that propels advances in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship. MRA-funded researchers have been behind every major melanoma research breakthrough. Since MRA’s inception, more than 16 new therapeutic approaches for melanoma have earned FDA approval. MRA is recognized as one of the most fiscally efficient non-profits in the country. Because MRA’s Founders generously cover 100% of MRA’s administrative and operating costs, every dollar donated is invested directly into MRA’s scientific and research program. For more information, please visit: www.CureMelanoma.org

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