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AACR and MPM Oncology Charitable Foundation Announce Two Grants to Support Transformative Cancer Research

PHILADELPHIA, PA and CAMBRIDGE, MA – Two grants for research that could transform cancer detection and treatment have been awarded by the AACR-MPM Oncology Charitable Foundation Transformative Cancer Research Grants Program, an innovative partnership between the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the UBS Oncology Impact Fund (“OIF 1”) managed through BioImpact Capital, an affiliate of MPM formed to broaden MPM’s investment offerings beyond venture capital into dedicated impact and public equities funds.

The Transformative Cancer Research Grants Program provides generous funds to early- and mid-career investigators to pursue creative, paradigm-shifting research that will advance our understanding of cancer and potentially transform future clinical practice. These grants are part of OIF 1’s impact program, which provides support for next-generation basic science research as well as for expanding access to cancer care in the developing world. OIF 1 donates a percentage of the fund manager’s profits to the impact program, as well as royalties on approved drugs from OIF 1 startup portfolio companies. To date, OIF 1’s impact program has provided $8.4 million in philanthropic donations.

“We are thrilled to announce this year’s Transformative Cancer Research Grant recipients,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “These projects tackle two difficult challenges in cancer research: early detection of pancreatic cancer and evaluation of the therapeutic potential of targeting so-called ’undruggable’ targets in myelodysplastic syndromes and other cancers. We are proud to continue our partnership with MPM and OIF in support of scientists whose bold ideas and innovative approaches have the potential to lead to significant breakthroughs for patients.”

“Since launching our first oncology impact fund in 2016, we have set the standard for biotech funds seeking to make an impact on patients,” said Christiana Bardon, MD, MBA, Co-Managing Partner of BioImpact Capital. “Through our partnerships with philanthropic organizations, OIF 1 has proven that its novel investment model amplifies the benefit to patients. From OIF 1 alone, our work with the AACR has funded seven grants to date. We look forward to contributing to the exciting science coming out of this organization for years to come.”

These grants were selected through a highly competitive review process, including an expert review panel chaired by Nobel Laureate H. Robert Horvitz, PhD, FAACR, an advisor to MPM Capital and OIF.

“We introduced the UBS Oncology Impact Funds to provide a way for our clients to align their investment goals with their ambitions to make a meaningful impact,” said Tom Naratil, Co-President of UBS Global Wealth Management and President of UBS Americas. “These grants, which were made possible by the performance of the first fund’s investments, show what we can achieve by reimagining the power of investing and connecting capital with innovative ideas to transform individual lives and accelerate the fight against cancer.”

The two grants are:

“Redox-based strategies for pancreatic cancer early detection”

Iok In Christine Chio, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center, proposes to apply chemical proteomic tools to identify oxidation products that will discriminate between pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and benign disease such as pancreatitis. These experiments will establish a discovery pipeline for the exploration of new diagnostics and contribute to the development of early detection and therapeutic strategies in the clinic.

“The AACR-MPM Oncology Charitable Foundation Transformative Cancer Research Grant will catapult our efforts to address an important knowledge gap in cancer redox biology and to develop effective, redox-based early detection strategies for pancreatic cancer and other malignancies,” said Chio.

“G protein signaling as a novel target for splicing factor-mutant cancers”

Eirini P. Papapetrou, MD, PhD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, will investigate G⍺s as a therapeutic target and evaluate therapeutic interventions that inhibit signaling downstream of its long form (G⍺s-L) assessed by in vitro and in vivo functional assays using induced pluripotent stem cell model and primary myelodysplastic syndrome cells.

“I am honored and grateful to receive this award, which will enable my laboratory to embark on a new and exciting direction in cancer biology of evaluating a new therapeutic target for cancers with splicing factor mutations,” said Papapetrou.

Each project will receive $400,000 over a two-year period. In this program, proposed research must represent a highly innovative approach to a major problem or challenge in cancer research that might not otherwise be funded through conventional channels. The projects can be focused on any area of basic, translational, or clinical research.