Funding Helps Drive Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
(PRUnderground) November 17th, 2020
This month, it is appropriate as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, that the Hopper-Belmont Foundation awarded four of the nation’s most innovative young cancer investigators with the 2020 Hopper-Belmont Inspiration Award. The award was extremely competitive, receiving applications from across the USA and Europe, all focused on pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death with an overall 5-year survival of 8% and median survival of only 4–6 months. Among the many challenges of this cancer is early propensity for metastatic spread, late diagnosis, and resistance to therapy.
With these dire statistics, together with multiple personal experiences to the Hopper and Belmont families, the non-profit Hopper-Belmont Foundation (HBF) chose pancreatic cancer as the focus of their inaugural annual Inspiration Award. “By 2030, pancreatic cancer is projected to rise to the second leading cause of cancer death, with few near term promising treatments available,” notes HBF vice chairman Allyson Hopper. “The need to recognize, motivate and support young researchers who are exploring innovative ways to detect and cure this aggressive cancer is critical.” The HBF mission is to identify, encourage and fund young talent who have passion for tackling the toughest challenges in health and wellness with novel and promising approaches.
The 2020 awardees are:
- William Hwang, MD/PhD – Harvard/Massachusetts General Cancer Center, Instructor of Radiation Oncology
- Jason Pitarresi, PhD – University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Research Associate
- Sri Raghavan, MD/ PhD – Harvard/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Instructor of Medicine
- Jackie Zimmerman, MD/PhD – Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chief Resident
The winning concepts covered the wide spectrum of innovative approaches important to pancreatic cancer progress, including early detection, early stage diagnostics, and promising therapeutics treatments.
“The Inspiration Award was launched realizing that funding for many health discoveries by young investigators is becoming more and more difficult. The award goal is to provide seed monies supporting proof of concepts that will hopefully gain interest from larger funding organizations, and accelerate direct patient benefit,” notes Randall Brand, MD-University of Pittsburgh Professor of Medicine.
“An important secondary goal is to encourage high potential award winners to continue making a career in health/wellness research their priority. As young PhD’s and MD’s prepare to launch their own labs, the ability to win awards like the HBF Inspiration Award, creates a solid foundation for future success,” adds Nabeel Bardeesy, PhD-Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital Associate Professor of Medicine.
Drs. Brand and Bardeesy are joined by Lyris Schonholz, MD- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Assistant Clinical Professor/ Partner Schaffer, Schonholz, and Drossman and Faye Kastrinos, MD Columbia University Irving Medical Center Associate Professor in helping launch this important inaugural award.
“While we are thrilled to celebrate National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month, our hope is to continually raise funds to address many important health issues and support exceptional research talent like the 2020 young investigators award winners,” Ms. Hopper explained. The Foundation is already making plans to announce its 2021 Inspiration Awards in February.
About Hopper-Belmont Foundation
Hopper-Belmont Foundation (HBF) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) focused on identifying, motivating, and supporting exceptional young research talent, who are pursuing innovative approaches in solving health and wellness challenges. Founded in 2019 by non-profit research and patient advocacy foundation leaders from the Hopper and Belmont families, the HBF created the Inspiration Award as a core initiative of the Foundation. The award targets senior post-doctoral or clinical fellow (MD, PhD, MD/PHD) or primary investigators in the first three years of their initial faculty appointment, or clinical fellows in the first three years, or post-doctoral faculty in the first three years of tenure. HBF welcomes individuals and families to join their mission. More information is available about the organization at www.hopperbelmont.org.
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