Cancer researchers at the University of Chicago and five other leading institutions will share equally in a $540 million gift from Ludwig Cancer Research, on behalf of its founder Daniel K. Ludwig. Ludwig Cancer Research is an international community of researchers dedicated to pursuing life-changing discoveries to alter the course of cancer.
The gift adds to a $120 million endowment in 2006 that created Ludwig Centers at each of the six chosen institutions, which include the University of Chicago, Dana-Farber/Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Stanford University. The gift of $90 million to each Center brings Ludwig’s total funding of the six institutions, including support for endowed professorships and operating costs, to $900 million. Ludwig Cancer Research’s total commitment to cancer research to date now reaches $2.5 billion.
“The Ludwig funding enables us to increase the pace of discovery at a time when federal research funding has been severely curtailed,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Medicine. “It is an honor to be part of this small, elite group and a pleasure to anticipate the many ways that this cancer research program may lead to breakthroughs in cancer treatment.”
Focus on metastasis
Under the direction of Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, in photo above left, and Geoffrey Greene, PhD, the Ludwig Center at the University of Chicago will use the funding to accelerate research on metastasis, the process by which cancer cells spread from a primary tumor to multiple distant sites.
To metastasize, a tumor cell must learn how to survive independently, enter the blood stream, travel to distant sites, establish a home in the new setting, invade nearby tissues and commandeer its own blood supply. By the time cancer cells acquire these attributes, they have developed resistance to most standard therapies.