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Charity Starts Industry-Backed Cancer Research Effort

Sung Poblete

Sung Poblete, president and CEO of Stand Up to Cancer (standup2cancer.org)

13 April 2016. The charitable group Stand Up to Cancer unveiled today a new program to spur research on cancer treatments begun by pharmaceutical companies. The program known as Catalyst will harness funds and products from participating companies that will be bid out to the research community at large for further research and development.

Charter members of Catalyst include the pharmaceutical companies Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Roche, through its biotechnology subsidiary Genentech. The companies will provide cancer treatments under development, or currently approved drugs for study to treat other disorders, as well as diagnostic or medical devices. Financial or in-kind commitments from these companies for Catalyst were not disclosed.

The Catalyst program itself will be administered by American Association for Cancer Research. Based on participants’ donations, American Association for Cancer Research will issue a request-for-proposal for translational researchers to respond with novel ideas leading to drugs or devices for detecting, preventing, or treating cancer. The request will outline the compounds and other materials provided by the companies, research priorities, estimated number of projects supported, and funds available.

Proposals are expected to follow Stand Up to Cancer’s collaborative model that puts together teams that cross industry and sector boundaries. This team approach, says the organization, brought together 1,100 researchers at 131 institutions, as well as 69 pharmaceutical, biotech, and diagnostics companies. The teams so far produced more than 160 clinical trials planned, underway, or completed.

Sung Poblete, president and CEO of Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), says Catalyst aims to speed up the rate at which new treatments are being developed. “The Catalyst program,” says Poblete in an organization statement, “is a perfect fit with the SU2C mission of accelerating the pace of groundbreaking translational research that provides new therapies to patients quickly. This will be a nimble program that will help speed up the rate at which we discover what works.”

The Catalyst program will be supervised by an executive board chaired by Phillip Sharp, professor of cancer research at MIT and 1993 Nobel laureate, who also chairs Stand Up to Cancer’s scientific advisory committee. A steering committee of academic and industry representatives will review proposals and recommend awardees.

Stand Up to Cancer, in Los Angeles, is an initiative of Entertainment Industry Foundation. The charity was formed in 2008 by film and media executives who use the industry’s resources to encourage a more collaborative model for cancer research.

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