The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research funds new center at University of Pennsylvania

$12 million awarded to study radiation therapy and immune signaling


Standing L-R: Kevin Mahoney, James Metz, Michele Cleary, Robert Vonderheide, Jon Epstein

NEW YORK – The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research announced today that it has awarded a grant of $12 million to establish The Mark Foundation Center for Immunotherapy, Immune Signaling, and Radiation at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Center will bring together cross-departmental teams of basic scientists and clinical researchers, who will focus on better understanding the interconnected relationships between advances in radiation therapy, important signaling pathways in cancer and immune cells, and the immune system’s ability to effectively control cancer.

“The results of this exciting project could have enormous significance for cancer patients,” said The Mark Foundation CEO Michele Cleary, PhD. “This multidisciplinary effort is well positioned for success, and we expect these leading researchers will uncover novel insights into cancer biology that will substantially expand the options for treatments with better efficacy and minimal toxicities. We look forward to working with this powerhouse team over the next 5 years and beyond.”

The new center at the University of Pennsylvania follows in the footsteps of The Mark Foundation’s establishment last summer of The Mark Foundation Institute for Integrated Cancer Medicine at the University of Cambridge, as well as previously announced collaborations with Cancer Research UK and Evotec. These awards all derive from the Mark Foundation’s commitment to funding interdisciplinary research that shows significant promise to transform how cancer is prevented, diagnosed and treated.

The Mark Foundation Center for Immunotherapy, Immune Signaling, and Radiation will be led by Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. The primary efforts of the center will comprise five key projects that converge on understanding the signaling pathways elicited by radiation therapy and how those pathways can be exploited therapeutically to enable the immune system to recognize and eradicate cancer.

“These projects have the chance to change the paradigm when it comes to cancer treatment,” said Minn. “Understanding important and potentially targetable mechanisms of immunotherapy resistance and how to use novel radiation therapies to enhance immunotherapies carries enormous benefits for patients.”


Specifics on the science funded by the grant can be accessed here.

About the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research is dedicated to accelerating cures for cancer by integrating discoveries in biology with innovative technology. Launched in 2017, The Mark Foundation pursues its mission by funding a global portfolio of groundbreaking research carried out by individual investigators, multi-investigator teams, and inter-institutional collaborations. Since its launch in 2017, the Foundation has awarded over $57 million in grant funding to 70 institutions across 18 U.S. states and 3 countries.

Recognizing the obstacles that can prevent scientific advances from improving patient outcomes, The Mark Foundation maintains a nimble, high-impact approach to funding research that encompasses grants for basic and translational cancer research, as well as venture philanthropy investment in companies that bridge the gap between the bench and the bedside. To learn more about the work of The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, visit:

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