the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s collaborating scientists convene at the annual Scientific Review and Symposium

The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s (SWCRF) annual Scientific Review and Symposium brought together 50 leading scientists applying epigenetics to cancer research in New York City on May 11 - 12 to present progress reports on their SWCRF-funded projects. The scientists work collaboratively throughout the United States and abroad to identify and correct abnormal gene function that causes cancer and to develop minimally toxic patient treatments.

Held at the Leon and Norma Hess Center for Science and Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, the event also feted two leading figures in cancer research and patient advocacy --- Kenneth C. Anderson, M.D., and Musa Mayer. Dr. Anderson, who is Kraft Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School as well as Director of the Lebow Institute for Myeloma Therapeutics and Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, received the David T. Workman Memorial Award for his role in research that resulted in the clinical development of more effective non-cytotoxic treatments for multiple myeloma.

Ms. Mayer, a 25-year breast cancer survivor who’s authored three books on breast cancer, received the SWCRF Distinguished Service Award for her work as a vocal proponent of quality patient care and research.

“Once again, the Scientific Review and Symposium was a high point of our grants evaluation program,” said Samuel Waxman, M.D., founder and CEO of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. “Our collaborating investigators presented forward-looking science that provoked a stimulating exchange among their colleagues working across cancer categories, which is the hallmark of our formidable brain trust.”

The two-day event included closed sessions among scientists sharing their research funded by the SWCRF followed by a presentation that brought together the scientists and some of the foundation’s top donors, board members and collaborating foundations, including the Emerald Foundation and the Mark Family Foundation, among other stakeholders. Researchers discussed their work with the guests, using poster presentations to summarize their theories targeting new therapies in a range of cancer categories.

The SWCRF’s philosophy of collaboration and information exchange was abundantly evident during the scientists’ review session, which was moderated by Dr. Waxman, SWCRF Chief Scientific Officer Jonathan Licht, M.D., Chief Mission Officer Alan Rosmarin, M.D. and Chief Operating Officer Jotin Marango, M.D., Ph.D.

The SWCRF Scientific Advisory Board was represented by Lorraine Gudas, Ph.D., Weill Cornell, Nancy Speck, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, and Hua Yu, Ph.D., City of Hope.

Some of the notable research developments with great therapeutic implications and potential that were discussed included:


  • New research by Ron Evans, Ph.D., of Salk Institute that examined the effects of diet and inflammation on colon cancer. 

  • A gene defect in Cholangiocarcinoma was identified in research by Josep Llovet, M.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which offers potential for targeted treatment for the disease.

  • Better understanding of the dormancy and reactivation of disseminated cancer cells from head and neck tumors, presented by Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

  • Regulation of cancer stem cells in leukemia as discussed by Ravi Bhatia, M.D., City of Hope MD.

  • William Weiss, M.D., Ph.D., University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Albert Baldwin, Ph.D., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, updated attendees on their EGFR/Brain Tumor collaboration. 

  • Jayanta Debnath, M.D., UCSF – Effects of autophagy dependent secretion on carcinoma differentiation. 

  • Andres Blanco, Ph.D., Boston Children’s Hospital, presented the project of his team working under Yang Shi, Ph.D. – Identification of epigenetic regulators of differentiation in AML. 

  • Gregory David, Ph.D., NYU Cancer Institute – Epigenetic regulation of inflammation and pancreatic cancer. 

  • Ross Levine, M.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – Altered Hydroxymethylation in AML. 

  • David Jones, Ph.D., University of Utah, presented his collaboration with colleague Brad Cairns, Ph.D., DNA demethylation in colorectal cancer. 

  • Yue Xiong, Ph.D., UNC Chapel Hill  - Oncogenic Metabolites and Epigenetics of Cancer Special Programs. 

  • Lan Xu, Shanghai Institute of Hematology (SIH), presented an update on the SWCRF’s ongoing collaborative work with the SIH. 

  • Robert Weinberg, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology - EMT and Cancer. 

  • Samuel Waxman, M.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Sin3a as a target for epigenetic therapy.

  • Chris French, M.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discussed his work with collaborator James Bradner, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, on therapeutic targeting of NUT Midline Carcinoma. 

  • Ari Melnick, M.D., Weill Cornell Medical College – Therapeutic targeting of the BTB domain in cancer. 

  • Robert Casero, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University - LSD1 Targeting as Anticancer Therapy. 

  • Jonathan Licht, M.D., Northwestern University - Histone Methylation and Demethylation. 

  • John Crispino, Ph.D., Northwestern University, and Shai Izraeli, M.D., Tel Aviv University - Therapeutic Targeting of the Malignant Platelet Precursor. 

  • Doris Germain, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai – Targeting the ER in Breast Cancer. 

  • Duane Compton, Ph.D., Dartmouth University – Targeted Therapy of Lung Cancer. 

  • Yongkui Jing, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai – Antimalarials as AML Therapy. 

  • Warren Pear, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania – Understanding Tribbles in cancer. 


The SWCRF-funded scientists, who comprise the foundation’s Institute Without Walls, hail from a Who’s Who of leading cancer research institutions, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical Center, among many others.

To view a gallery of photos from the Symposium and reception, click here.

To learn more about our scientists' collaborative research programs, click here.