Los Angeles, California - Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the charitable initiative aimed at bringing new treatments to cancer patients quickly, today announced Catalyst, a new program that will use funding and materials from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic and medical devices industries to accelerate research on cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Founding collaborator Merck; and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, are Charter Supporters.

“The Catalyst program is a perfect fit with the SU2C mission of accelerating the pace of groundbreaking translational research that provides new therapies to patients quickly,” said Sung Poblete, RN, PhD, president and chief executive officer of SU2C. “This will be a nimble program that will help speed up the rate at which we discover what works.”

Under the SU2C Catalyst program, companies like Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Genentech will donate funds to support collaborative research studies using products the companies will provide, such as new pharmaceutical compounds that they are developing or approved agents that can be investigated for other uses.  

Through its scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), SU2C will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the scientific community based on each company’s commitment of funding and materials such as drugs and diagnostic tests. The RFP will lay out the compounds that will be available, the research emphasis, the estimated number of projects that will be supported, and funding available. Proposals are expected to follow SU2C’s collaborative research model.

The SU2C Catalyst program will be overseen by an Executive Committee chaired by Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, chair of the SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee and institute professor at the Koch Institute for Integrated Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A subcommittee chair from academia -- selected by the Executive Committee -- will work with an industry-specific Steering Subcommittee consisting of an equal number of academic scientists, named by SU2C in consultation with AACR, and pharmaceutical industry members named by the funding companies, to review proposals for grants pursuant to each industry-specific RFP. The program will be administered by the AACR.

Since 2008, SU2C has launched 19 Dream Teams, two Translational Research Teams, and 26 individual Innovative Research Grants, with funds committed by philanthropic, organizational, corporate and individual donors, as well as non-profit collaborators. More than 1,100 researchers at 131 institutions are or have been involved. More than 160 clinical trials have been planned, initiated or completed.  Across the SU2C research portfolio, 69 pharmaceutical, diagnostic and biotech companies have engaged in 140 collaborative efforts with SU2C-affiliated scientists and institutions.

“We have a deep understanding of both the academic and industry perspectives and the powerful impact that collaboration has on research,” Dr. Sharp said. “This program will bring those perspectives together in a new way for the benefit of patients.”

“Just as patients can benefit from a multi-disciplinary team approach to treatment, Merck believes cancer research can benefit from diverse team of experts in industry, advocacy and academia,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early-stage development, Merck Research Laboratories. “We are proud to be the first to collaborate with SU2C in the development of the Catalyst initiative. Through our support of this program, along with other collaborators, we hope to more rapidly bring advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment to patients in need.”

“Bristol-Myers Squibb is proud to support the Stand Up To Cancer Catalyst program, furthering our joint commitment to improving outcomes for all cancer patients,” said Awny Farajallah, vice president, head of U.S. Medical, Oncology, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We are dedicated to continued collaboration with the goal of accelerating research and providing new therapies to the patients who need it most.”

“Collectively, we have made great progress against cancer and must continue to work together to drive new approaches to prevent and treat cancer,” said Dr. Edith Perez, vice president and head BioOncology Medical Affairs at Genentech, and director of the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Translational Genomics Program. “Collaborating with SU2C, AACR and the broader cancer community is an important step that can lead to new breakthroughs and possibly even a cure.”

“The new source of funding is very important, and so is access to drugs and other materials,” Dr. Sharp said. “Cancer researchers face challenges in obtaining materials needed for clinical trials. This program will ensure the necessary supply of agents and will also make the opportunity to engage in this type of research more widely available to the research community.”