Conquer Cancer®, the ASCO Foundation has joined forces with the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) to grant a 2020 Career Development Award (CDA) to a physician-scientist in Israel. The CDA supports early-career clinical and translational investigators during their first few years of faculty appointment when funding is especially challenging to obtain.
Albert Grinshpun, MD, MSc
Albert Grinshpun, MD, MSc, of Hadassah Medical Center, received the 2020 Conquer Cancer – Israel Cancer Research Fund Career Development Award for his project, Universal Detection of Breast Cancer, working toward developing a minimally invasive alternative for standard breast biopsy. Dr. Grinshpun’s 3-year project, which started on September 1, 2020, involves enhancing and improving a universal liquid biopsy approach to detect breast-derived circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in patients with breast cancer.
“This grant will allow the Hadassah Breast Cancer research group and me to fulfill our ambitious goal to develop an early diagnosis blood test for the detection of early-stage breast cancer,” said Dr. Grinshpun. “Personally, the grant came at the perfect time to develop my career path as a translational researcher.”
While this marks the first time Conquer Cancer has co-funded an award with ICRF, the organizations have other ties. ICRF’s leadership includes many ASCO members. Long-time ASCO member Mark A. Israel, MD, who previously headed the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, now serves as ICRF’s National Executive Director.
Mark A. Israel, MD
Founded in 1975, ICRF’s beginnings can be traced to an early ASCO meeting. “There were a lot of physicians and scientists at the [ASCO] meeting who met Israeli researchers,” explained Ellen T. Rubin, ICRF’s Director, Research Grants. “These researchers were lamenting the lack of funding for their work and were concerned they would need to leave Israel to pursue research. The idea behind the formation of ICRF was to stem the brain drain. A lot of people did their postdoctoral fellowships outside of Israel and didn’t return.”
Since its founding, ICRF has provided more than $72 million to award nearly 2,500 grants to Israel-based cancer researchers. The organization now funds between $3 million and $4 million in research grants annually, supporting investigators at all career stages. ICRF has six chapters in the United States, two in Canada, and one in Israel. Part of its impact can be seen in the agents discovered in part through research that ICRF funded, such as bortezomib, imatinib mesylate, and doxorubicin hydrochloride.
Ellen T. Rubin
ICRF enhances its robust grants program through collaborations with like-minded organizations. “We look for organizations committed to collaborative funding, [that are] open-minded about researchers at various levels of career development, and enthusiastic about Israel’s performance in biomedical sciences,” said Dr. Israel. “These collaborations have resulted in great opportunities for us to expand our efforts in Israel and the breadth of experiences we can provide our investigators.”
“The significant history of Conquer Cancer in reaching out to individuals in other countries whose careers were evolving, and the association with Conquer Cancer and ASCO, made it seem like a natural fit for collaboration,” said
ICRF offers various opportunities for ASCO members and patients to get involved with the organization. Dr. Israel elaborated, “For scientists and physicians, we have an active scientific review panel that evaluates and prioritizes the applications we receive. We also serve as a sounding board for patients who are interested in learning the latest science in Israel. We look to scientists to help serve as a resource. The value added by ICRF is the critical, consistent, unbiased review of ideas that form the basis of our selections for funding.”
“Conquer Cancer is proud to align with ICRF to award funding to a deserving investigator in Israel as we aim to increase grant offerings for early-career stage faculty,” said Nancy R. Daly, MS, MPH, Conquer Cancer’s Chief Executive Officer. “We value ICRF’s years of experience and achievements in supporting Israeli oncology research.”
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