The Starr Foundation announced on January 31 that the Foundation had made a renewal gift of $55 million to the Starr Cancer Consortium (SCC), a collaboration among the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College.
Created in 2006 through the inspired philanthropy of The Starr Foundation, the SCC has provided a novel framework for research without walls that builds on the complementary strengths of the member institutions, including a one-of-a-kind experience in applying the power of genomics to biomedical problems, a proven expertise in the study of cancer genetics in humans and animals, and a strong clinical operation and vast collection of cancer specimens that offer a crucial resource for studying cancer in humans. All projects supported by the Consortium are collaborative, involving investigators from two or more of the five participating institutions.
“This project has proved to us that collaboration leads to more rapid advancement of cancer research from the laboratory bench to clinical applications”, said Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg, Chairman of The Starr Foundation. “In the past five years, we have seen numerous examples in which Consortium scientists from different laboratories and different research institutions have inspired each other to pursue novel paths to understanding cancers and optimizing treatments.”
Starr funding has enabled rapid progress by forging unlikely alliances and supporting novel but promising research efforts that would not otherwise have been possible. Some of the SCC’s most notable accomplishments include:
- Discovery of mutations that predict overall survival of patients with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a highly heterogeneous and poorly understood malignancy
- Discovery of how a new melanoma drug works and why it stops working in some patients
- The first large-scale study to explore inherited copy number variations in prostate cancer
- The first study to ask how the cell cycle controls sensitivity to cytotoxic killing
- New insights into the metabolism of cancer cells
- A comprehensive molecular characterization of soft tissue sarcoma
- Identification of a group of genetic variants that help predict breast cancer risk among patients who have inherited mutations in the BRCA2 gene
“We are enormously grateful to the Starr Foundation for its continued support of our investigators’ research efforts, which hold promise for improving our understanding of cancer and accelerating the development of new treatments and cures,” said Sylvie Le Blancq, Executive Director of the Starr Cancer Consortium.