The Lustgarten Foundation, the nation’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research, today announced that it has awarded $25 million in new multi-year research grants. The research initiatives and clinical trials are focused primarily on developing early detection methods and better therapeutic options, and testing them with patients.

“The Lustgarten Foundation is contributing this significant funding to accelerate the movement of successful research results from the lab into clinical trials, so we can directly impact the treatment of individuals with pancreatic cancer and develop life-saving tests and more effective therapies,” said Dr. David Tuveson, M.D., Ph.D., director of research for The Lustgarten Foundation. “Pancreatic cancer is the nation’s most lethal cancer and, unlike other cancers, death rates are unfortunately on the rise. The urgent need for additional funding and a scientific framework for action were even recognized by Congress and President Barack Obama when they passed and signed into law the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act. We look forward to working with the National Cancer Institute on further progress in this area.”

The new grants will support important research advancements at 18 world-renowned scientific and medical institutions, including Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology , Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Part of this funding will go toward several new clinical trials to test ways of detecting the disease earlier, which is a critical area of research since there are no early detection tests for pancreatic cancer. Another clinical trial will test a revolutionary approach to pancreatic cancer treatment though immunotherapy.

New Clinical Trials:

  • Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Bert Vogelstein and his team will conduct two clinical trials with 1,600 individuals across five continents aimed at developing diagnostic tests that would allow patients to take a simple blood test to check for pancreatic cancer and to know whether a pancreatic cyst is benign or malignant. These clinical trials are building on the successful results from a prior study funded by The Lustgarten Foundation (see published findings: Science Translational Medicine, 7/20/11).
  • Led by Dr. Hadassa Degani, Ph.D., at the Weizmann Institute of Science, another clinical trial will focus on the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology in tandem with fluids to identify pancreatic cancer tumors with greater clarity at earlier stages. The application of this technology has the potential to be used in every major treatment center.
  • A clinical trial led by Dr. Carl June and Dr. Gregory Beatty at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will focus on altering and training a patient’s immune system to target and eliminate cancer cells. Using a revolutionary new approach, a patient’s T cells will be genetically modified to express protein complexes known as chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), which act as a tool to help the reprogrammed T cells recognize and destroy pancreatic cancer cells. This research has already shown very promising results in other cancers, such as leukemia.

Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal of all cancers, with only six percent of individuals diagnosed with the disease surviving five years. Since its inception in 1998, The Lustgarten Foundation has provided more than $65 million in support of pancreatic cancer research. Cablevision Systems Corporation, a leading media and telecommunications company, underwrites all of the Foundation’s administrative costs, so that 100 percent of every dollar donated to the Foundation goes directly to this important research.

About The Lustgarten Foundation and Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is swift and silent, often undetected until it’s too late. More than 37,000 people will die from it this year. The overall five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is six percent and most individuals with advanced cancer die within a year. There are no early detection tests, no effective long-term treatments and, unless the cancer is surgically removed in its earliest stages, no cure. It is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

The Lustgarten Foundation is America’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research. Based in Bethpage, New York, the Foundation supports research to find a cure for pancreatic cancer, facilitates dialogue within the medical and scientific community, and educates the public about the disease through awareness campaigns and fundraising events. The Foundation has provided millions of research dollars and assembled the best scientific minds with the hope that one day, a cure can be found. Cablevision Systems Corporation, a leading media and telecommunications company, underwrites all of The Lustgarten Foundation’s administrative costs, so that 100 percent of every dollar donated to the Foundation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research. Learn more at