Break Through Cancer launches collaborative model with MD Anderson, top U.S. research institutions in pursuit of cancer cures

Break Through Cancer today announced its formal launch as a public foundation designed to find new solutions to the most intractable challenges in cancer. The foundation is being launched with an extraordinary challenge pledge of $250 million from Mr. and Mrs. William H. Goodwin, Jr. and their family, and the estate of William Hunter Goodwin III. This represents one of the largest gifts ever in support of cancer research.

Researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will join collaborative teams funded and supported by Break Through Cancer along with other top cancer centers - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Tyler Jacks, Ph.D., the David H. Koch Professor of Biology and Founding Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, will lead the effort.

Break Through Cancer will focus on historically highly challenging cancer types, including pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, glioblastoma, and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), for its initial programs, aided by the guidance of a scientific advisory board of cancer experts from outside the participating institutions. Teams will receive substantial funding to bring new approaches and new thinking as rapidly as possible to the clinical challenges of cancer.

“Break Through Cancer’s model builds on the outstanding efforts of the broader cancer research community and presents the potential for major advances in our shared fight against these intractable cancers,” said Dr. Jacks, President of Break Through Cancer. “Our tagline, “collaborating for cures,” captures our collective goal to empower many of the brightest, most dedicated minds in cancer research and to maximize the capabilities of these highly respected institutions. In the future, we look forward to partnering with the broader philanthropic, biotech, and pharmaceutical communities to expand the impact of Break Through Cancer further still.”

The organization is supported by a board that includes leaders from each of the participating institutions, with William G. Nelson, V, M.D., Ph.D., the Marion I. Knott Professor of Oncology and Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, serving as Chairman. MD Anderson’s representatives include Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer, and David Jaffray, Ph.D., chief technology and digital officer.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Goodwin family for the vision and support to make Break Through Cancer a reality. We are excited to join these leading cancer centers to drive team science, focused on specific goals in the most challenging cancers, that will enable us to make significant progress for our patients,” said Draetta. “This spirit of collaboration is at the heart of MD Anderson’s research strategy and has been key to our success. We are confident that Break Through Cancer will allow us to build upon that strategy by working closely with talented scientists across the country.”

“We realize there are no guarantees, yet we believe this effort to fight cancer, particularly with collaborative research, has a realistic probability of success,” said Bill Goodwin. “We want to help people have better lives. And we sincerely hope that by being public with our support, we will inspire others to support this incredible effort.”