The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation celebrates research milestones and top donors at its 40th Anniversary Awards event

SWCRF Founder and CEO Samuel Waxman, MD, at center, with the members of the Scientific Advisory Board and grantees at the SWCRF scientific review on May 2.

Distinguished cancer researchers, philanthropists and business leaders convened at the Leon and Norma Hess Center for Science and Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center on May 2 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF). The two-hour event paid homage to four decades of progress in the SWCRF’s funded research programs, honored Dr. Timothy J. Ley with the David T. Workman Memorial Award and recognized 64 standout contributors to the mission of the foundation, which was founded in 1976 by Samuel Waxman, M.D.

Dr. Waxman updated guests on exciting SWCRF developments.

The ceremony’s lineup of speakers reunited several of the SWCRF’s longtime scientific collaborators and donors. Dr. Waxman opened the program with an overview of the SWCRF’s investment in cancer research categories, its growing visibility in the media and plans for its new Aging and Cancer grants program targeting treatments for cancer patients over 50. SWCRF Chief Scientific Officer Jonathan Licht, M.D., delivered a report on the April 30 Aging, Cancer and Hematopoiesis workshop that brought together experts in cancer and aging for presentations and discussions that will set the parameters of the research projects to be funded under the initiative.


Ramon Parsons, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of Oncological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, provided observations from the SWCRF Scientific Advisory Board on project updates presented by SWCRF grantees during the two-day grant review meetings that preceded the anniversary event. Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D., Provost and Executive Vice President of MD Anderson Cancer Center, and former SWCRF Chief Scientific Officer, provided a moving testimonial on the importance of funding cancer research. Another longstanding member of the SWCRF’s Institute Without Walls network of grantees, Shai Izraeli, M.D., of Tel Aviv University, described how donor support for the SWCRF supported his research, which led to a current clinical trial for a drug to treat a chemotherapy-resistant subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

NCI Acting Director Douglas R. Lowy, MD, congratulated the SWCRF via a pretaped video.

Two SWCRF collaborators who have moved on to high-profile leadership positions in government and health care congratulated Dr. Waxman and the SWCRF via video addresses. Prof. Zhu Chen, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People’s Republic of China, recalled his collaboration with Dr. Waxman and Prof. Zhen-Yi Wang on their breakthrough differentiation of acute promyelocytic leukemia in the 1990s and lauded the SWCRF for its launch of the Aging and Cancer grants program. Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., the acting director of the National Cancer Institute and a former member of the SWCRF Scientific Advisory Board, shared how receiving the David T. Workman Award in 2006 advanced his research with fellow honoree Dr. John Schiller and congratulated Dr. Waxman and the foundation for its continued efforts to advance research for a cancer cure. 

Drs. Jonathan Licht and Timothy J. Ley

The scientists’ testimonials were followed by the presentation of the 2016 David T. Workman Award by Dr. Licht to Dr. Ley. Named after David Workman, a beloved supporter of the SWCRF who died of a non-treatable cancer in 1997, the Workman Award recognizes the application of science for the development of a new treatment for a poorly-treatable form of cancer.  Dr. Ley was honored for his leadership role in developing genome sequencing as an unbiased platform to identify new molecular targets for the clinical development of more selective, non-cytotoxic treatments for patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

Following the scientific reports and honors, Dr. Waxman presided over a reading of names of 64 donors and volunteers who have contributed significantly to the SWCRF’s mission to eradicate cancer through support for research. Honorees were acknowledged in three categories: Visionary, Benefactor and Collaborator for a Cure. 

Visionary Award honoree       Susan W. Rose

The SWCRF Visionary Award was bestowed on 15 supporters who hold the distinction of advancing the SWCRF mission to eradicate cancer with transformative efforts at pivotal moments in its history. The SWCRF Benefactor Award acknowledged 47 individuals and organizations that have helped build and sustain the foundation’s grants programs in recent years through their committed support for its fundraising efforts. Finally, two honorees were recognized as Collaborators for a Cure for giving selflessly of themselves in diverse ways as dedicated volunteers. 

SWCRF Chairman Michael Nierenberg congratulated Dr. Waxman.

Three Visionary Award honorees gave brief testimonials. Susan W. Rose, one of the original SWCRF board members and a past president, recalled the excitement of partnering with philanthropists Mary and Sidney Kantor to produce the SWCRF’s first gala benefit in the late 1970s. Robert Kantor, a current board member and past president, complimented the SWCRF on its longstanding and productive relationship with the Shanghai Institute of Hematology, which Mrs. Kantor helped to establish.  SWCRF Chairman Michael Nierenberg then offered his personal congratulations to Dr. Waxman for powering the foundation’s growth and support for researchers over the course of its 40 years. The ceremony was followed by a reception during which SWCRF Board President Spencer Waxman led the guests in a toast to Dr. Waxman. Guests enjoyed sparkling wines provided by SWCRF Benefactor Award honoree Palm Bay International. 


For more photos from the event, click here.


The SWCRF 40th Anniversary Awards Honorees are:




Dale and Peter Claman J. Jay Mautner Tony Shogren
Gary Jacob Elin and Michael Nierenberg Taub Family
Kantor Family Susan Rose Bettina and Spencer Waxman
Mildred+ and Abner+Levine Joan and Alan Safir Marion Waxman
Reuben Mark Alfred J. Seaman+ Dena K. Weiner




Lawrence Altman Howard Kurz Adam Siegel
John D. Brewer, Jr. E. Antonio Lama+ Baron Silverstein
Peter Cherasia Matthew Lyons Andrew Sloves
Thomas Conway Thomas Marano Soros Fund Charitable Foundation
James DeMare Barbara and Fred Marcus Margaret Whitton and Warren Spector
Wesley Edens Jeffrey Mayer Joseph G. Steffa Jr.
Scott Eichel Musa Mayer Three Strohm Sisters Family Foundation
Robert Eichler Martin Migliara Laurence Tarica
Johan Eveland Randy Nardone Jeffrey Verschleiser
Kenneth Fishel Craig Overlander Joshua Weintraub
Arminio Fraga Palm Bay International Zena Wiener
Jamie Frankel Randy Reiff Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation
Genirs Family Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka Matthew Zisette
Gary Gladstein Howard Rubin  
Cliff Greenberg Laurie Schaffran  
Linda and Dennis Herman Scheurer Family  
David Hinkelman Howard Shlafmitz +deceased



Erica L. Fineberg
Samantha Santiago