The William Raveis Charitable Fund culminates its year-long fundraiser to support groundbreaking cancer research at Damon Runyon and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
William Raveis raised a total of $465,000 for cutting-edge cancer research in 2022. The William Raveis Charitable Fund has been partners with Damon Runyon for nine years and Dana-Farber for the past three years. WRCF helps fund the two organizations’ Fellowship programs, with $350,000 going to Damon Runyon and $115,000 to Dana-Farber for 2023.
The goal to raise awareness, not just funds, for groundbreaking research has been the mission of The William Raveis Charitable Fund (WRCF) for nearly two decades. Everyone is affected by cancer in some way. Bill Raveis, CEO of William Raveis admits, “For me, cancer is very personal. When my wife Candy was diagnosed with acute myeloma leukemia, her doctor gave her four months to live. Thanks to the cutting-edge cancer research being done, she benefited from new drugs and treatments on the market. It is now eight years after her diagnosis and these crucial new treatments gave us the gift of more time together.”
It is incredibly important that companies like William Raveis continue their commitment to research organizations like Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. These are the most prestigious and innovative institutions in the country. We are fortunate to have such dedicated young scientists helping our loved ones, cancer patients, and survivors throughout our communities. Fundraising and support have direct results. In fact, William Raveis donates 100 percent of the proceeds from events like the Raveis Ride + Walk to support Fellowship recipients at Damon Runyon and Dana-Farber. The 2023 Scientists were announced in January:
Luisa F. Escobar-Hoyos, PhD
Damon Runyon-William Raveis Charitable Fund Innovator (2022), Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Escobar-Hoyos research focuses on pancreatic cancer that identifies novel therapies and immunotherapy to fight tumor activity.
Current pancreatic cancer chemotherapies are not effective, and targeted therapies are only applicable in about 5% of cases. Furthermore, pancreatic cancers cause immune cell stress, limiting the success of immunotherapies in this disease. Using animal models and tumor samples from pancreatic cancer patients, Dr. Escobar-Hoyos has discovered that changes in RNA splicing, a process that controls protein diversity in cells, are crucial for pancreatic cancer development, therapy resistance, and disruption of anti-tumor immunity. The proposed project will dissect the molecular role of RNA splicing in pancreatic cancer, which likely drives the disease’s lethality. She seeks to develop a novel anti-RNA splicing therapy with dual action-a targeted therapy against tumor cells coupled with an immunotherapy to restore immune cell anti-tumor activity-to more effectively treat pancreatic cancer patients.
James Swann, DPhil, VetMD Mentor
Emmanuelle Passegué, PhD Columbia University, New York. Dr. Swann is using cutting edge techniques to investigate molecular pathways and factors that hasten the onset of acute myeloid leukemia.
A key question in cancer biology is how genetic mutations, acquired over time, interact with environmental factors, such as chronic inflammatory diseases, to affect emergence and progression of disease. This is particularly relevant in the field of blood cancers because many people acquire genetic mutations in blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow but only a small proportion go on to develop acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Dr Swann is therefore investigating whether inflammatory signals alter the behavior of stem cells that have already acquired an initial mutation, causing them to acquire features of cancer that will hasten the onset of AML. Specifically, Dr. Swann is interested in whether precancerous stem cells use different groups of regulatory molecules, called transcription factors, in response to inflammation, which might allow them to outcompete normal cells in the bone marrow microenvironment. He is utilizing cutting edge techniques such as tracing of blood cells and CRISPR editing of blood stem cells to investigate the molecular pathways responsible for these biological changes. This project has the potential to identify molecular pathways activated by inflammation that might promote AML development, offering new targets for therapeutic interventions.
Xin Zhou, PhD, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School/Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Dr. Zhou aims to design innovative macromolecules and cells to study and target cancer with a specific focus on the immune system. Antibodies, vaccines, checkpoint inhibitors, and CAR-T cells have all been successful in leveraging the immune system against disease, but these treatment strategies still have limitations. Dr. Zhou is designing new macromolecules to direct the immune response to cancer. She plans to engineer dynamic, functional proteins that respond to specific protein post-translational modifications, conformations, or complexes. She hypothesizes that these conditionally activated proteins will be able to recognize cancer-specific antigens, drive protein-protein or protein-substrate interactions, or help build synthetic cell signaling pathways, and therefore can be harnessed to enact specific anti-tumor responses.
Sara J. Buhrlage, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Harvard Medical School All Cancer Types. Dr. Buhrlage is a thought leader in developing a one-of-a-kind platform to enable key discoveries across multiple cancer types.
Dr. Buhrlage is a thought leader in harnessing deubiquitinases (DUBs) as emergent drug targets, where her lab has pioneered new approaches for interrogating DUB function, new insights into the chemical tractability of DUBs, and mapping the therapeutic potential of DUBs in cancer. The foundation of her lab is an integrated DUB-focused platform comprised of DUB-targeted libraries with novel scaffolds and chemotypes and a suite of established and novel assays to profile compound activity and selectivity, as well as expertise in DUB medicinal chemistry, structural biology, computational chemistry, and functional annotation. The one-of-a-kind platform has enabled key discoveries of the roles of DUBs and ubiquitin proteasome system in cancer. Her work has shown that pharmacological inhibition of USP7 promotes cancer cell death through upregulation of tumor suppressor p53 in Ewing sarcoma and by sensitizing cancer cells to immune surveillance in Merkel cell carcinoma. Moreover, she has shown the several mutant oncogenic proteins in AML are differentially regulated by UPS compared to wt enzyme and that DUB inhibition can promote selective degradation of mutant proteins. Prior to joining Dana-Farber as a faculty member in 2015, Dr. Buhrlage directed Dana-Farber’s medicinal chemistry core laboratory. Dr. Buhrlage earned a Doctor of Philosophy in organic chemistry from the University of Michigan under Professor Anna Mapp, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Broad Institute. In these roles, she studied many therapeutic target classes and modalities. Her publications and patent portfolio number near 100 and showcase her conviction towards multi-disciplinary research to elucidate novel pathway of clinical importance.
Meghan Raveis, Managing Director for The William Raveis Charitable Fund (WRCF), and organizer for the William Raveis Ride + Walk comments, “In finding a cure for cancer, it takes a great deal of teamwork. Since our partnership began in 2015, we’ve raised nearly $4 million in donations and funded 28 Scientists.” For 2023, Meghan is coordinating a much larger grassroots campaign with sales associates and office managers planning local fundraisers, chili cookoffs, elegant luncheons, bingo & comedy nights, musical performances and more for The William Raveis Charitable Fund. To learn more and to contribute to the cause, please visit RaveisRideWalk.com
The William Raveis Charitable Fund (WRCF) – Since its founding in 2004, The William Raveis Charitable Fund has been at the forefront of raising money to support communities that are impacted by cancer across the Northeast. Their focus is on the advancement of cancer research and programs that offer cancer patients and their families’ physical and emotional support during treatment. In 2015, the fund partnered with the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation which provides young scientists with the funding to pursue their boldest, and most innovative ideas to prevent, diagnose, and treat all forms of cancer. To date, Raveis has raised nearly $4 million and funded 28 scientists through WRCF.
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation – Damon Runyon identifies the brightest early-career scientists with innovative research ideas and provides them with funding to pursue new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat all forms of cancer. Since 1946, this exceptional organization has invested over $430 million and funded nearly 3,950 young scientists, including 11 Nobel Laureates. Earlier this year, eight Damon Runyon alumni were elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors a scientist can receive.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Founded in Boston in 1947, the institute blends leading science and exceptional care into transformative medicine. Dana-Farber is a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and federally designated comprehensive cancer center that develops and disseminates innovative patient therapies and scientific discoveries throughout the world. Since 1948, the Jimmy Fund has raised millions of dollars through thousands of community efforts to advance Dana-Farber’s lifesaving mission.
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