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National Foundation for Cancer Research Announces 2021 Salisbury Award Competition Winners

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The Program is Designed to Catalyze and Advance Promising Cancer Research Innovations onto a Path of Commercialization and Patient Impact

ROCKVILLE, MD – The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) announced winners of the 2021 Salisbury Award Competition for Entrepreneurial Translational Research, selected from among eight semi-finalists after pitch presentations in front of a judging committee consisting of prominent cancer research scientists, clinicians, early-stage investors and business leaders.

The semi-finalists were determined earlier in the spring based upon applications from among academic laboratories or early-stage companies advancing promising experimental cancer therapeutic, diagnostic, detection and vaccine innovations.

The first prize winner of the Salisbury Award Competition is the cancer therapeutic innovation presented by Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer (CSO) of Israel-based TanoMed, and a professor at Tel Aviv University and director of its Cancer Biology Research Center. Their technology trains host immunity in the tumor microenvironment against a specific member of the carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule family, CEACAM5, that plays a prominent role in gastrointestinal cancers.

The second prize winner is the innovation presented by Izabela Tworowska, Ph.D., co-founder and CSO of Houston-based RadioMedix, a company advancing a peptide receptor radionuclide experimental therapy that targets certain inoperable neuroendocrine tumors.

The third prize winner is an innovation presented by Maria José Alonso, Ph.D., founder of Spain-based Libera Bio, a company developing a novel delivery vector of whole monoclonal antibodies to intracellular cancer targets otherwise deemed “undruggable.”

The innovation presented by Yoel Shiboleth, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of TargetGene Biotechnologies, an Israeli company, earned honorable mention. This technology is a unique gene-editing platform for the targeting of lung cancer and other diseases.

The Salisbury Award program was established in 2019 in honor of three family members whose shared vision and legacy have defined NFCR’s mission and continue to guide the organization’s commitment to funding “high-risk, high-impact and high-reward” cancer research. The Salisbury Award Competition is designed to identify and promote innovative discoveries made in the lab to be commercialized, with the ultimate goal of benefiting cancer patients. Innovations are assessed by the event’s judging committee based on categories of feasibility, novelty and cancer patient impact.

The Salisbury Award Competition winner will have access to NFCR’s extensive cancer research network in the U.S. and around the world. The eight semi-finalists also benefit from increased visibility and insightful follow-on feedback from the key opinion leaders who comprise the judging committee:

  • Chair Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., Paul C. Cabot Professor of Genetics and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Webster Cavenee, Ph.D., Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of California San Diego
  • Pamela Garzone, Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, Calibr at Scripps Research
  • Dimitra Georganopoulou, Ph.D., Innovation Faculty, MIT linQ CATALYST and Interim Chief Business Officer, MyGenome Rx
  • Brian Leyland-Jones, M.B., B.S., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, AIM-HI Accelerator Fund
  • Will Liu, Ph.D., Partner, Eight Roads Ventures
  • Alfred Slanetz, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Geneius Biotechnology
  • Thea Tlsty, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology, University of California San Francisco
  • Matt Tremblay, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, Scripps Research
  • Hai Yan, M.D., Ph.D., Henry S. Friedman Distinguished Professor of Neuro-Oncology, Duke University School of Medicine

“The Salisbury Award Competition has significantly grown in its scope, impact and breadth of technologies since the program’s creation only two years ago,” said NFCR President and CEO Sujuan Ba, Ph.D. “The 2021 event featured an exceptional set of translational cancer research projects and innovations being developed by labs and start-ups—each of which holds much promise for real impact.”

“Translational research, at its core, is the critical juncture where promising laboratory findings can become clinically significant technologies,” stated Dr. Cavenee, chair of NFCR’s scientific advisory board. “The Salisbury program has become well-respected and global in its reach—as is the cancer problem. This is underscored by three of the top four awarded oncology innovations this year—including the winner’s—being invented outside the U.S.”

“The Salisbury Award Competition has provided highly credible input and validation opportunities for the innovative and disruptive immunotherapeutic technology for gastrointestinal cancer which has been invented at Tel Aviv University and is being developed by TanoMed,” expressed Prof. Satchi-Fainaro. “I am honored to represent our collaboration with Professor Helena Florindo from the University of Lisbon and commend the National Foundation for Cancer Research and the event’s esteemed judging committee members for this platform that highlights and supports early-stage, cancer-fighting technologies that have the potential to help patients.”

About the National Foundation for Cancer Research:

The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides scientists critically needed funding to make cutting-edge discoveries in cancer treatment, detection, prevention and, ultimately, a cure. NFCR has distinguished itself by supporting high-risk, high-impact and transformative research often overlooked by other major funding sources that deem it too risky. Since its establishment in 1973, NFCR has provided more than $390 million for cancer research and public education. For more information, visit