Venture Capitalist Awards Grants to Cancer Projects
On Tuesday, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist awarded three grants totaling $1.35 million to support biomedical research projects that could not obtain funding elsewhere, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Andrew Rachleff, retired co-founder of Benchmark Capital, awarded the grants from a $9 million fund he established with his wife to finance cancer research projects that are unlikely to receive funding from NIH or other mainstream sources because of their risky nature.
Rachleff said major advances to thwart cancer will never occur unless grant makers take risks on long-shot ideas that have potentially large rewards.
The first round of Rachleff's funding, distributed by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in New York, provided three $450,000 grants to:
- Sarkis Mazmanian, an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology, for research on the relationship between intestinal bacteria and colon cancer;
- David Kirsch of Duke University, to develop a handheld device to help surgeons thoroughly remove tumors; and
- Nathanael Gray of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, to construct a "cancer signaling roadmap" to track chemical messages related to cancer growth.
Rachleff said that even one large success from the approximately 18 projects he plans to fund over the next several years would justify the endeavor (Tansey, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/15). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.