News & Notes: Summer/Fall 2022

This fall, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of The Mark Foundation’s first grant, which was signed in September 2017. We are proud of our impact over the past five years -  awarding over 200 grants totaling more than $180 million across 13 countries to enable innovative investigations in a multitude of cancer types and research stages, from discovery to translational to clinical. Over that same period, we’ve built a robust and growing portfolio of investments in oncology companies developing novel therapeutics and diagnostics. In this issue of News & Notes, we’re happy to share updates about the work we’ve funded, our events, the accomplishments of members of our network, and other news.

Scientific Symposium 2022

After a hiatus in 2021, The Mark Foundation convened more than 150 scientists from around the world for our Scientific Symposium 2022 in New York City. The two-day event featured presentations and panel discussions on emerging topics in cancer research from scientists and entrepreneurs supported by the Foundation, as well as a keynote talk on the hallmarks of pancreatic cancer from David Tuveson. Read about the presentations, panels, and speakers, and scroll through our photo gallery hereStay tuned for details on our 2023 Symposium.

Awarding $12 million to Cancer Grand Challenges Team Developing Novel Immunotherapies for Childhood Solid Tumors
The Mark Foundation announced funding $12 million towards a Cancer Grand Challenges grant for the NexTGen global team, led by Catherine Bollard (Children’s National Hospital, US) and Martin Pule (University College London, UK). The project, which is co-funded by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute for a total of ~$24 million (£20 million), seeks to build a deeper understanding of childhood brain tumors and sarcomas, leading to the development of effective CAR T-cell therapy treatments for those patients. Read More
The NexTGen team was celebrated at an event hosted at the British Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C. (Left to right) Ryan Schoenfeld, CEO of The Mark Foundation; Catherine Bollard, co-lead of the NexTGen team; Kurt Newman, CEO of Children’s National Hospital; Dame Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the US; and Dinah Singer, Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute.  
Expanding Our Partnership with The Johns Hopkins University to Accelerate Groundbreaking Immunotherapy Research
The Mark Foundation and the Bloomberg~Kimmell Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy announced a new $10 million commitment at Johns Hopkins University. The collaboration will accelerate the work of The Mark Foundation Center for Advanced Genomics and Imaging, which began in 2020 co-led by Janis Taube and Drew Pardoll, in developing the next-generation genomics and imaging platforms for cancer immunotherapy. Read More
New ASPIRE Awards Expand Global Outreach
In July, The Mark Foundation announced the selection of eight outstanding research projects to receive ASPIRE awards. Investigators from top academic institutions in six countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, and USA) were awarded a total of more than $2 million for high impact/high reward projects. Notably, these are the first Mark Foundation grants given in Austria and Switzerland, as the Foundation continues to expand its global outreach. Read More
Partnering with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
Wellington Oliveira dos Santos of Brazil joined IARC in Lyon, France as a postdoctoral scientist in the Genomic Epidemiology Branch thanks to a fellowship funded by The Mark Foundation. The IARC Postdoctoral Fellowship program helps boost research capacity in countries worldwide. IARC is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization. Read more about Dr. dos Santos’ research here.
Welcome 2022 Mark Foundation Momentum Fellows
In August we announced the recipients of this year’s Mark Foundation Momentum Fellowships, supporting promising early career investigators and enabling them to reach the next level of their careers. Read about the projects of these exceptional investigators here.
Carolyn Bertozzi was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Dr. Bertozzi is part of The Mark Foundation-supported Cancer Grand Challenges NexTGen team developing CAR T immunotherapies for childhood solid tumors. Read More
In October, Mark Foundation Chairman Ray DuBois was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, DC, in a ceremony (delayed by the pandemic) following his election in 2019. A few days later, David Tuveson of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, keynote speaker at the Foundation’s Scientific Symposium, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine as part of the 2022 class. 
Gabriel Gihana, a Damon Runyon – Mark Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, was selected as one of the 2022 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Hanna Gray Fellows. Read More
Richard Gilbertson, Director of The Mark Foundation Institute for Integrated Cancer Medicine at University of Cambridge, was elected as a member of EMBO in recognition of his outstanding achievements in life sciences. Read more about The Mark Foundation Center at Cambridge.
Philip Kranzusch, a 2020 Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Awardee, was named a Cancer Research Institute STAR! Read more about Dr. Kranzusch’s ELA Award.
Grantee Success Story - Charles Swanton
In September, Mark Foundation ASPIRE awardee Charles Swanton of the Francis Crick Institute and University College London presented newly published research at the ESMO 2022 Presidential Symposium showing how air pollution causes lung cancer in never-smokers – by waking up cells with cancer-causing mutations. The Mark Foundation is a proud supporter of this work through an ASPIRE award. Read more about Dr. Swanton’s research here and his ASPIRE project here.
Investments Spotlight: Vicinitas Therapeutics
The Mark Foundation made a new investment in Vicinitas Therapeutics as part of the company’s $65 Million Series A launch round, announced in July 2022. Vicinitas was founded by Dan Nomura, from UC Berkeley, a Mark Foundation ASPIRE grant recipient and member of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee. The new company’s chemical biology platform was developed in the Nomura lab through research funded by a series of ASPIRE awards from The Mark Foundation. With its Series A financing, Vicinitas is advancing novel therapeutics to stabilize tumor suppressors and other important targets within and beyond oncology. Read more about the Vicinitas launch here and about Dr. Nomura’s ASPIRE project here.
The Mark Foundation Out and About
Mark Foundation CEO Ryan Schoenfeld spoke on “Sourcing and Identifying Novel Technology” at the Longwood Healthcare Leaders summit in September. He joined leading biopharma CEOs, heads of R&D, leading academic researchers, and investors in a forum on accelerating translation of discoveries into medicines to help patients.
Also in September, The Mark Foundation hosted an Aging and Cancer workshop in partnership with the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. Topics included senescence, the aging microenvironment, biomarkers of aging, and the impact of aging on cancer therapy and outcome were explored in this intensive, single-day meeting organized by Ashani Weeraratna and James DeGregori. 
Our Pediatric Brain Tumors workshop hosted at The Banbury Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in October convened an expert group of researchers and clinicians to develop a roadmap for the translation of fundamental discoveries into therapeutic interventions for childhood brain cancer. Many thanks to organizers Richard Gilbertson, Michelle Monje, and Nada Jabado for a thought-provoking gathering.
Top-notch cancer research and dedication to improving patient care were on full display at The Mark Foundation Center for Immunotherapy, Immune Signaling, and Radiation at The University of Pennsylvania when The Mark Foundation’s Ryan Schoenfeld, Ray DuBois, Becky Bish, and Michael Carleton visited in September, hearing updates from Andy Minn, John Wherry, and other Center investigators about their collaborative efforts to better understand and integrate radiation biology and immunotherapy for the benefit of cancer patients.
Published Research
Visit to see our grantees’ recent publications.
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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