The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Receives $2 Million in Funding to Support Promising Clinical Research

Grants Funded in Honor of Beloved Anthropologist and One of Nation's Most Influential Mutual Fund Investment Authorities

May 06, 2014, 09:00 ET from Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., May 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has received $2 million to fund promising clinical research. Contributions of $1 million each were made in honor of Ruth Fredman Cernea and Skip Viragh. The funding will support two Research Acceleration Network (RAN) Grants, which are among the 14 grants being funded by the organization thus far in 2014.

"The generous contributions made in honor of Ruth Fredman Cernea and Skip Viragh support critical research being done that has the potential to help us reach our goal to double pancreatic cancer survival by 2020," said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "By increasing private research dollars, and encouraging collaborations among researchers to expedite scientific and medical progress, we will move even further ahead in improving overall survival for pancreatic cancer."

Anthropologist Ruth Fredman Cernea died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 74.  She was the author of books on Jewish culture and served as the former international director of publications and resources at the Hillel Foundations. The grant funded in honor of Cernea will support the work of Dung Le, M.D. from Johns Hopkins University and research collaborator Todd Crocenzi, M.D. from Providence Portland Medical Center. Their project focuses on the potential of immunotherapy to treat metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Skip Viragh was considered one of the nation's most influential mutual fund investment authorities. His legacy illustrates a consistent commitment to philanthropy in medical research and other charities focusing on human causes. Skip died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 62.  The grant funded in honor of Viragh will support the work of Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., of MD Anderson Cancer Center and research collaborator Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medical College. Their project focuses on blocking the unique method by which pancreatic cancer cells break down sugar as a way to inhibit cancer growth and progression.

Pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is anticipated to become the second by 2020. This year, more than 46,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and nearly 39,000 will die. In fact, 73 percent of patients die within the first year of their diagnosis because the disease is typically caught at a late stage. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival of all major cancers, with a five year survival rate of just 6 percent. There are no early detection tools, and few effective treatment options exist.

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About the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The organization is leading the way to increase the survival rate for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative—The Vision of Progress: Double Pancreatic Cancer Survival by 2020. Together, we can know, fight and end pancreatic cancer by intensifying our efforts to heighten awareness, raise funds for comprehensive private research, and advocate for dedicated federal research to advance early diagnostics, and better treatments and increase chances of survival.

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SOURCE Pancreatic Cancer Action Network