Starr Foundation Awards $5 Million in Grants to Cancer Research Teams

The New York City-based Starr Foundation has announced grants totaling $5 million to five cancer research teams through the Sixth Starr Cancer Consortium Grant Competition.

Research teams from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College will each receive $1 million over two years to help the Starr Cancer Consortium — the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College — advance research in ways that improve the understanding, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer.

Selected from a pool of twenty-seven applicants, grant recipients include Dr. C. David Allis, who will work with a team at Rockefeller University to examine how histone H3.3 mutations affect the epigenetic landscape to mediate the development of pediatric gliomas; Dr. Olivier Elemento at Weill Cornell, who will work with his team to identify the mechanisms of anticancer molecules; and Dr. Todd Evans, also at Weill Cornell, who, with his team, will focus on activation-induced cyntidine deaminase (AID), a gene that regulates cytosine methylation patterns that may control the epigenetic landscape of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells and can affect cancer by regulating DNA methylation patterns.

The foundation also awarded grants to Dr. Minkui Luo at Memorial Sloan-Kettering for a study on the oncogenic roles of two protein methyltransferases — SETDB1 and SUV39H1 — recently identified as key players in BRAF melanoma; and to Dr. Gary Schwartz, also of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, to examine the mechanisms of transformation by IDG mutations to facilitate the development of new targeted drugs against isocitrate dehydrogenase I (IDH1 and IDH2) mutant cancers, including chondrosarcoma and acute myeloid leukemia.

"We congratulate the winners of the Starr Foundation's Sixth Starr Cancer Consortium Grant Competition," said Starr Foundation president Florence A. Davis. "This consortium has launched a number of innovative, collaborative cancer research projects that are already linking discoveries in the laboratory to the clinic. Better patient outcomes are our ultimate goal and we see progress every year."