Conquer Cancer Foundation Donor Spotlight: Ludwig Cancer Research

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Robert L. Strausberg, PhD

Among the Conquer Cancer Foundation’s newest supporters, Ludwig Cancer Research is an international community of distinguished scientists dedicated to preventing and controlling cancer. Its emphasis on collaboration and long-term support has fostered its role as a leader in immunotherapy and other challenging aspects of cancer research since its founding in 1971. Ludwig has supported the ASCO Annual Meeting through the Conquer Cancer Foundation for the past 2 years, most recently supporting the Cancer Prevention Track at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The goals of Ludwig and the Conquer Cancer Foundation are closely aligned in that both organizations seek to fund research that advances the diagnosis and treatment of cancers. “Supporting the Conquer Cancer Foundation was a natural fit,” said Robert L. Strausberg, PhD, Ludwig’s Executive Director of Collaborative Sciences. “We don’t doubt that the Conquer Cancer Foundation will know how to put these funds to work in service to what is, after all, a globally shared mission.”

Globally Influential

Ludwig supports more than 1,000 researchers and administrative staff working at prestigious institutions and laboratories in the United States, Europe, and Australia. According to Dr. Strausberg, Ludwig-designated sites “are chosen based on their ability to provide opportunities for collaboration and strong interdisciplinary basic and translational research.”

He continued, “For example, the newly launched Ludwig Lausanne Branch is a multi-institutional, multidisciplinary partnership involving several local Swiss research institutions. Researchers there have the opportunity to work closely with leading hospitals, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies to develop novel immunotherapies.” To further promote global collaboration, Ludwig convenes researchers from around the world for an annual meeting.

Advances in Immunotherapy and Genomics

A longstanding leader in cancer immunotherapy, Ludwig continues to expand its role in a field that is showing great promise. For example, Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD, and ­Stephen Hodi, MD, both ASCO members and Ludwig researchers, presented findings at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting and in The New England Journal of Medicine,1 showing that people with advanced melanoma respond better to two immune checkpoint inhibitors, ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo), than to either alone.

Cancer prevention is another important focus area for Ludwig. In partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ludwig launched a research program to advance dietary interventions and technologies for the prevention of colon cancer. Ludwig is exploring how certain foods might make people either more resistant or vulnerable to this cancer. Specifically, Ludwig researchers are looking at the impact of diet on the gut microbiome and, ultimately, on immune functions, building on their expertise in immune intervention. “We are also very interested in what is often referred to as secondary prevention, or developing screening technologies for the noninvasive detection of early-stage cancer and precancerous growths,” said Dr. ­Strausberg. “It is during these early stages that treatments are most effective.”

In addition to immunotherapy and cancer prevention, Ludwig has leading programs in cellular signaling and genomics. Advancing discoveries for human benefit is at the heart of Ludwig’s research efforts. For instance, “we provide an interface between basic and translational science through our technology development program, led by Jonathan Skipper, PhD,” said Dr. Strausberg. “The program includes small molecule discovery, assay development, preclinical studies, and engineered antibodies. These resources, including scientific teams with specific expertise, help us assess how specific scientific discoveries can be further advanced,” he elaborated.

A Growing Partnership

Many Ludwig scientists are already ASCO members, so there is great synergy between the two organizations. At the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting, there were presentations from U.S.-based researchers at five Ludwig centers, as well as from Ludwig’s international researchers in Europe and Australia. Toward encouraging collaboration both within Ludwig and the greater cancer research community, Dr. Strausberg offered, “We would love to get to know ASCO members by connecting with them through our new Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. ASCO members can share our posts to help raise awareness of research progress, tell us how our research developments may affect their work, or vice versa.”

A visionary organization, Ludwig takes a long-term view of scientific development and provides its scientists the freedom to fully pursue and develop their ideas, to take risks, and if they fail, to do so smartly. “This enables our scientists to have more time to do what they do best—ask and answer important scientific questions,” said Dr. Strausberg.

“The Conquer Cancer Foundation gratefully acknowledges and sincerely appreciates the support received from Ludwig Cancer Research,” said Nancy Daly, MS, MPH, Executive Director and Chief Philanthropic Officer of the Conquer Cancer Foundation. “It is only due to the generosity of our donors, such as Ludwig Cancer Research, that we are able to pursue our mission of conquering cancer worldwide by funding breakthrough cancer research and sharing cutting-edge knowledge.”

To learn more about Ludwig Cancer Research, please visit

To learn more about the Conquer Cancer Foundation, please visit ■


1. Postow MA, Chesney J, Pavlick AC, et al: Nivolumab and ipilimumab versus ipilimumab in untreated melanoma. N Engl J Med 372: 2006-2017, 2015.

© 2015. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.