News & Notes: Summer/Fall 2023

Season’s greetings from The Mark Foundation!
As we close out 2023, we’re proud to reflect on our impact over the Foundation’s first six years: over $220 million in grants have been awarded to investigators at more than 100 academic institutions across 16 countries, enabling groundbreaking discovery, translational, and clinical research across a multitude of cancer types. Over that time, we’ve also built a robust and growing portfolio of investments in oncology companies – half of which transitioned from academic grantee projects into commercial development. 

In this issue of News & Notes, please tune in to CEO Ryan Schoenfeld’s end of year video message and read more about the work we’ve funded, our events, accomplishments of community members, and other news over the past six months.

New Funding Opportunities
Two new opportunities to apply for research funding from The Mark Foundation will open in first quarter 2024.

  • Multi-investigator teams worldwide can apply for an  Endeavor Award supporting innovative collaborations in cancer research, starting January 3.
  • Early career investigators are eligible to apply for our Emerging Leader Award beginning March 20.

Keep an eye on our website and social media for more!

Scientific Symposium 2023
More than 150 scientists from around the world gathered in New York City in October for the fourth annual Mark Foundation Scientific Symposium. Presentations and panel discussions on trailblazing topics in cancer research featured scientists supported by the Foundation’s grant programs and venture investments. Read about the presentations, panels, and speakers, and scroll through our program and photo gallery here. Stay tuned for details of our 2024 Symposium.
Mark Foundation Teams Up with Takeda
The Mark Foundation announced an alliance with Takeda to accelerate the discovery and development of novel treatments for cancer. Mark Foundation CEO Ryan Schoenfeld commented, “Through this collaboration, Takeda and The Mark Foundation have committed to pushing the boundaries by targeting the unique dependencies between the tumor biology and the multitude of stromal and immune cell types that support tumorigeneses, with the goal of turning transformative discoveries into life-changing therapies for patients.”
The unique approach leverages the Foundation’s global network of leading academic scientists and robust project review and funding platform, as well as Takeda’s extensive track record of developing life-saving cancer treatments. The Mark Foundation will receive financial support from Takeda to launch an exclusive workshop and co-fund external research projects. The scientific workshop will bring together hand-picked scientists from different disciplines to dream up novel approaches for suppressing the supportive environment that allows tumors to thrive. These scientists, and potentially others, will be invited to apply for academic research funding to initiate research on the exceptional approaches developed. Read more here.
Mark Foundation Award Announcements
Stamatis Papathanasiou, Group leader at The Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), in Mainz, Germany, was selected as the recipient of the 2024 EACR-Mark Foundation-Pezcoller Foundation Rising Star Award. Stamatis was chosen based on the high quality of his project proposal on “Mechanisms of cellular response to errors in mitosis: a new, non-genetic approach to an old question.” Read More
Sixteen new Mark Foundation ASPIRE awards totaling over $5M were announced in November. These innovation-focused projects are often based on new ideas that may have limited preliminary data, which tends to place them outside the scope of other funding opportunities. Read more here about these latest ASPIRE awards in  genetics, chemical biology, artificial intelligence (AI), immune-oncology, biophysics, cancer prevention, and more. This includes research into multiple types of adult and pediatric cancers, encompassing both solid tumors and blood cancers. Two of the projects result from an RFP following a Mark Foundation scientific workshop on pediatric brain tumors.
A total of $12M in new Endeavor collaborative grants were awarded across seven institutions to support teams of scientists tackling a range of urgent challenges in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. Four new Mark Foundation Endeavor teams were announced in October at The Mark Foundation Scientific Symposium. These $3 million grants will accelerate progress in high-priority research areas through a collaborative approach. “From the bioengineering of novel cell therapies for a class of lethal cancers, to a deep dive into the connections between obesity, inflammation, and cancer, these projects bring new approaches to longstanding obstacles facing cancer patients,” said Ross Levine, Mark Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee chair. Read more.
Investments Spotlight
Mark Foundation portfolio company Hyku Biosciences came out of stealth this September – congrats to the Hyku team on launching with $56M to advance a covalent medicines platform. Special shout out to Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Awardee Ken Hsu, Hyku scientific founder. Read more.
To date, The Mark Foundation has invested in eight cancer therapeutics and diagnostics startup companies. Four of these portfolio companies, including Hyku, spun off from research grants administered by the Foundation. According to Anna Turetsky, head of the Foundation’s venture arm, the heart of the Foundation’s venture strategy is for the Foundation to be involved in the full impact life cycle – from early initial research awards to follow-up grants and venture rounds, in service of our mission to accelerate the pace of new innovations reaching patients. In total, companies with direct ties to Mark Foundation grants have successfully raised over a billion in funding.
Out and About
The Follicular Lymphoma Foundation and The Mark Foundation co-hosted a workshop at ASH 2023 to tackle the urgent need for better biomarkers for follicular lymphoma, to transform patient outcomes. An interactive discussion with key investigators in the field began to plot the way forward with a goal to establish a collaborative grant program focused on this topic.
The Mark Foundation’s Ryan Schoenfeld, Ray DuBois, and Becky Bish were hosted by Michael Baumann, Scientific Chair and CEO at The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) for two days of discussion with a diverse group of cancer researchers to learn about the innovative work happening there in cancer prevention, AI in oncology, and more.
Members of The Mark Foundation team spent a wonderful night at the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation Annual Gala, dedicated to our shared mission of ending cancer. Read more about our partnership with the Waxman Foundation enabling new collaborations in Aging and Cancer here.
The Mark Foundation’s Ray DuBois, Ryan Schoenfeld, Becky Bish, and Rob Magin spent a thrilling week at the 36th annual Aspen Cancer Conference, where The Mark Foundation sponsored the Fellows program.
Listen in to part 2 of EACR’s The Cancer Researcher Podcast featuring Mark Foundation CEO Ryan Schoenfeld, CRUK’s Professor Greg Hannon, and Arianna Baggiolini of the Institute of Oncology Research in Switzerland sharing their thoughts on grant applications and research funding here.
A two-day Chromosomal Instability workshop at Barts Cancer Institute in London was hosted by The Mark Foundation in June. The diverse group of scientists, clinicians, and researchers from around the world, encompassing different areas of expertise such as molecular biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, and clinical oncology, fostered robust discussions of chromosomal instability and its implications for cancer biology. New collaborations among investigators who attended the workshop are under consideration for funding through The Mark Foundation’s ASPIRE award program. Read more.
Alberto Bardelli, Director of Laboratory Molecular Oncology at the Candiolo Cancer Institute IRCCS, who directs the IFOM Genomics of Cancer and Targeted Therapies program, hosted Ryan Schoenfeld and Becky Bish of The Mark Foundation to meet with IFOM researchers and hear about the institute’s scientific strategy and direction in the coming years.
Anna Turetsky shares insights on venture investing for nonprofits in this Client Corner: Perspectives from Founders, Financiers, and Friends podcast from Mintz here. 
Our team had a productive visit to The Mark Foundation Center for Immunotherapy, Immune Signaling, and Radiation at the University of Pennsylvania. Thanks to Center Director Andy Minn, Carl June, John Wherry, Costas Koumenis, and Junwei Shi and colleagues for sharing your great progress.
A day of fun and community service for The Mark Foundation team, volunteering at Medshare to pack critical medical supplies for underserved communities.
Congratulations to…
Mark Foundation Drug Discovery awardee Craig Crews on receiving the Kimberly Prize from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and on his selection, together with Raymond Deshaies, for the 25th Jacob and Louise Gabbay Award by Brandeis University.
Mark Foundation Drug Discovery awardee and Scientific Symposium ’23 panelist Alec Kimmelman on being named director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health here.
Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Awardee Sarah Slavoff on receiving the ACS Chemical Biology Young Investigator Award.
Aspen Fellow (and former Mark Foundation Momentum Fellow) Sheng Cai on winning the Holly & Gerald N. Wogan prize.
Mark Foundation Board Member Nicola Mendelsohn CBE on being named one of Fortune’s 2023 Most Powerful Women here.
Mark Foundation Drug Discovery awardee Aaron Schimmer on being elected as a Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada.

Nduka Amankulor, Mark Foundation ASPIRE awardee and Director of the Penn Brain Tumor Center, for being named a Cancer Moonshot Scholar.
Pasi Jӓnne, Mark Foundation Drug Discovery awardee, on being named a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO).
Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Awardees Kivanc Birsoy, Eric Fischer, and Cigall Kadoch on being named finalists for the 2023 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.   
Ray DuBois, Mark Foundation Executive Chairman, on being inducted as a fellow in the Royal College of Physicians-London.
The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research actively partners with scientists to accelerate research that will transform the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. We fulfill our mission by supporting groundbreaking science carried out by individual investigators, multi-disciplinary teams, and early-stage companies in the United States and across the globe.
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