The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research

Cancer Research UK is delighted to partner with The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research to support Professor Elledge’s Grand Challenge team. The multi-million-pound gift from this New York-based philanthropic organisation is its largest to a UK organisation to date.

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research is committed to accelerating cures for cancer by integrating discoveries in biology with innovative technology. It funds a global portfolio of research carried out by individual investigators, multi-investigator teams and inter-institutional collaborations. Established in 2017 by Alex Knaster in memory of his father, Mark, who died of cancer in 2014, the foundation awards funding to support cutting-edge scientific ideas that could transform patient care and answer the most complex questions about cancer biology.

The foundation’s transformational donation will help fund the vision of the team– a world-class collection of cell biologists, geneticists and computational experts from the US, the UK and the Netherlands. The team hopes to reveal the molecular mechanisms that underpin tissue specificity in tumours and exploit these discoveries to develop new ways to treat cancer.

"The ambition of Grand Challenge to answer the most urgent questions, and its scale of funding and impressive advisory panel – unrivalled in its expertise – offered our young foundation an ideal opportunity to tap into a rigorous selection process and funding model that perfectly aligns with our goal to fund complex and ambitious science. The initiative provides outstanding teams with the resources they need to collaborate effectively across scientific disciplines to achieve maximum impact. Among the overwhelming talent we saw in the submissions, we were most intrigued by the team's proposal. They have identified the gaps in our understanding of the tissue-specific effects of certain cancer driver mutations, and we were fascinated by their clear and thoughtfully framed approach to addressing this puzzle. The strong collegial dynamic among team members, coupled with Professor Elledge’s expert leadership, gave us confidence that the project will be successful. We look forward to achieving great things through our partnership with Cancer Research UK."








Michele Cleary PhD, Chief Executive of

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research

The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) 

For almost 70 years, the Dutch Cancer Society (DCS) has been committed to supporting innovative research and policy work to bring about an end to cancer. Like Cancer Research UK, this nationwide organisation receives no government funding. Instead, it relies on its 1 million donors and 100,000 volunteers to achieve its aim – less cancer, more cures and a better quality of life for patients and survivors.

"We joined Grand Challenge as a funding partner because we were inspired by Cancer Research UK’s ambition to bring together the best minds to find solutions to the most urgent questions in cancer research. We also highly value the careful assessment of the projects by excellent researchers and patients. There was a great deal of talent demonstrated in the first round of applications. But the team led by renowned pathologist Professor Jelle Wesseling, particularly stood out. Their vital work to prevent the unnecessary burden of breast cancer treatment is a wonderful example of collaboration between the UK, the US and the Netherlands. It’s exciting to see prominent researchers co-operating internationally and the progress already being made – not even two years into funding. Basic biological research has told us the first features of DCIS abnormalities that may be related to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. It’s now important that the team validate these findings, so that they can be introduced in clinical health care. It’s clear that Professor Wesseling and his team want to make a big difference. For us, as our two organisations focus on cancer and depend on donors, we can learn much from each other’s strategies to establish excellent international research projects. In our first 18 months of partnership, we’ve been impressed by the level of engagement and involvement we’ve had in the project. Through compelling updates from the team at Cancer Research UK, we’ve been kept at the fore of key developments the team is already achieving. We look forward to continuing being part of this unique initiative and learning about the promising outcomes that will ultimately help us achieve our goal of increasing survival for those living with cancer."







Fred Falkenburg, Director of the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF)