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The Lustgarten Foundation Announces New Pancreatic Cancer Research "Distinguished Scholars" Program

The Lustgarten Foundation awards $15 million in funding
Initial program grantees include Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., Salk Institute; Douglas Fearon, Ph.D., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Weill Cornell Medical College;and Bert Vogelstein, M.D., Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center 

BETHPAGE, NY – May 20, 2014 - The Lustgarten Foundation, the nation's largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research, today announced the first three scientists chosen to receive research funding as part of its new “Distinguished Scholars” program, which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding achievements in research to focus their efforts on finding a cure for pancreatic cancer. Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., the Salk Institute; Douglas Fearon, Ph.D., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Weill Cornell Medical College; and Bert Vogelstein, M.D., Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, will each receive $5 million in research funding over the next five years.
“We are honored to recognize Drs. Evans, Fearon and Vogelstein as the first Lustgarten Foundation Distinguished Scholars,” said Kerri Kaplan, executive director, The Lustgarten Foundation. “The Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board has selected these outstanding scientists because each one is a leader in their field with the greatest potential for developing an early detection test and more effective therapies for the nation’s most lethal cancer. Together, we will pursue our mutual goals of improving survival rates for people with pancreatic cancer and eradicating this deadly disease.”
The Distinguished Scholars program is a new Lustgarten Foundation initiative that will identify and fund the best minds in research today to engage in pancreatic cancer research.  The grantees were selected by The Lustgarten Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board due to their historical accomplishments of breakthrough research.  As Lustgarten Foundation Distinguished Scholars, each grantee will serve as the principal investigator and commit dedicated laboratory staff to their research project. Continuation of annual funding is contingent upon the achievement of predefined research milestones and approval of scientific progress reports. The Lustgarten Foundation has already committed a total of $27 million toward important pancreatic cancer research studies so far this year.
More information about the 2014 Lustgarten Foundation Distinguished Scholars is included below.

Ronald M. Evans, Ph. D.
Dr. Ronald M. Evans is a Howard Hughes Investigator, March of Dimes Chair in Developmental and Molecular Biology, and a Professor and Director of the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute.  Dr. Evans has received numerous awards for his research, most notably the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2004 and the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 2012.  Dr. Evans is an authority on hormones and how they communicate signals in the body.  Several of the hormone signals Dr. Evans discovered are primary targets in the treatment of breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and leukemia, as well as osteoporosis and asthma.  Most recently he has been studying the use of Vitamin D in the treatment of pancreatic cancer in the laboratory.  As a Lustgarten Foundation Distinguished Scholar, he will expand these studies to conduct clinical trials in pancreatic cancer patients using Vitamin D therapies.

Douglas Fearon, M.D.
An internationally known expert in the field of immunology, Dr. Doug Fearon will assume a new joint position on July 1 at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Weill Cornell Medical College.  Dr. Fearon  focused his studies initially on rheumatoid arthritis and is now applying that knowledge to cancer. Recently, he discovered a new drug that harnesses the immune system to break down the protective stromal barrier surrounding pancreatic cancer tumors and enables cancer-attacking T cells to penetrate it.  One of his first goals as a Lustgarten Foundation Distinguished Scholar will be to conduct clinical trials to test this new drug combination in pancreatic cancer patients. Previously, Dr. Fearon was a Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology in the Department of Medicine at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

Bert Vogelstein, M.D.
Dr. Bert Vogelstein is a Howard Hughes Investigator, Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology, and director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  He has led the way in the use of genetics technology to better understand genes and their mutations in order to treat and detect a variety of aggressive cancers.  He was first funded by The Lustgarten Foundation in 2007 to sequence the genome for pancreatic cancer, and his findings were published in the prestigious journal Science, which designated the project as among the top three 2008 "Breakthroughs of the Year." Since then, he has applied his vast expertise of genetics to early detection techniques for pancreatic cancer,

which has led to the development of an early detection blood test in the laboratory that is now being tested in clinical trials with patients. The Lustgarten Foundation Distinguished Scholar grant will enable Dr. Vogelstein to continue his critical work in developing the first early detection test for pancreatic cancer. 

Media Contact:
Goodman Media International
Sabrina Strauss

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