Hope Funds for Cancer Research
Press Release

Hope Funds Announces 2021 Gala Results

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
John A. Wells
NEWPORT, RI -- July 28, 2021-- Hope Funds for Cancer Research, dedicated to advancing innovative research for the most difficult-to-treat cancers, held its 2021 Award of Excellence Gala, at Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island, on Sunday, July 25th, raising nearly $300,000 for postdoctoral fellowships.

The Awards Dinner and Gala is held annually by Hope Funds to provide support for programmatic activities and to raise funds for postdoctoral fellowships in cancer research. At the white tie dinner, which was limited to 100 guests, distinguished honorees were presented with the Hope Funds Awards of Excellence, which recognize outstanding achievements in the fields of basic research, drug development, medicine, patient support and philanthropy.

The Chairs for the event were Mr. and Mrs. Ross S. Cann, Dr. and Mrs. Andrew Mullen, and Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Van Schaack.

"Being together, in-person, for the first time in more than 18 months, honoring these luminaries in the presence of our postdoctoral researchers and donors was fantastic," said Gala Co-Chair Andrew Mullen, Ph.D. The organization used an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of the guests, including holding the dinner outside and limiting seating to 70 guests on the Terrace and another 30 in the enchanting Marble House folly, the Tea House. “All 100 guests joined together for dessert buffet at the end of the evening, and scientists and supporters caught up on the progress made in the last year," said Leah Rush Cann, chair of the Executive Committee of the Board, “It was a magical evening.”

For more photos (all photos here from Julie Skarratt Photography): Photo Link

Honorees Receiving Awards at 2021 Gala

Patricia F. Bilden, M.D.
Dr. Bilden is a retired dermatologist and a Life Trustee of the Hope Funds for Cancer Research. She received a B.A. from Georgetown University and an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine. Dr. Bilden completed an internship in Internal Medicine at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Boston, a Research Fellowship in Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a Dermatology residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. She retired from medicine upon moving to Hong Kong, where she and her husband resided for 21 years. Dr. Bilden is an active philanthropist and manages the Bilden family's philanthropic initiatives focused on cancer research, education, U.S. national security and military veterans. In addition to her 13 years of service on the Board of Trustees of the Hope Funds, Dr. Bilden was a long-serving member of the Board of Regents at Georgetown University in addition to numerous non-profit and educational governing boards. She and her husband Philip are residents of Palm Beach FL, and the parents of three adult children, LT Philip Bilden, USN, ENS Andrew Bilden, USN, and Claire Bilden.

Susan Band Horwitz, Ph.D.
Dr. Horwitz is a biochemist and a Distinguished Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she holds the Falkenstein Chair in Cancer Research.  Dr. Horwitz is a pioneer in elucidating the mechanisms of action of chemotherapeutic drugs, including Taxol, which she is most recognized for. Taxol is widely used to treat ovarian, breast, and lung cancer. Dr. Horwitz received a degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College and obtained her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Brandeis University, under the direction of Professor Nathan O. Kaplan. She was a postdoctoral fellow in The Department of Pharmacology at Tufts University Medical School and at Emory University Medical School.  In 1967, she moved to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York where she has concentrated on the development of natural products, such as Taxol, for the treatment of cancer. She has received many awards including: the C. Chester Stock Award from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize from Harvard Medical School, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor, the AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research, and the Canada Gairdner International Award. She is a member of the National Academy of Science, and of Medicine, and The American Philosophical Society.

Melissa Moore, Ph.D.
Dr. Moore is Chief Scientific Officer, Platform Research, at Moderna Therapeutics, where she is responsible for leading mRNA biology, delivery and computation science research. She joined Moderna in 2016 from the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), where she served as Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research and a long-time Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Moore was also a founding Co-Director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute at UMMS, and was instrumental in creating the Massachusetts Therapeutic and Entrepreneurship Realization initiative, a faculty-led program intended to facilitate the translation of UMMS discoveries into drugs, products, technologies and companies. Dr. Moore is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (2017) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019). Dr. Moore holds a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from the College of William and Mary, and a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from MIT. She began working on RNA metabolism during her postdoctoral training with Phillip A. Sharp at MIT.

Jedd Wolchok, M.S., M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Wolchok is Chief of the Immuno-Oncology Service and holds The Lloyd J. Old Chair in Clinical Investigation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Wolchok is a clinician-scientist exploring innovative immunotherapeutic strategies in laboratory models, and a principal investigator in numerous pivotal clinical trials.  Dr. Wolchok was instrumental in the clinical development leading to the approval of ipilimumab for advanced melanoma.  The focus of his translational research laboratory is to investigate innovative means to modulate the immune response to cancer as well as to better understand the mechanistic basis for sensitivity and resistance to currently available immunotherapies. Dr. Wolchok received his B.A. degree from Princeton University, and his M.S., Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from New York University. Dr. Wolchok has received numerous honors for his work including: the Alfred Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Research, the American Association for Cancer Research Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award, the Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair for Clinical Investigation, the Melanoma International Foundation's Doctor of the Year Award, the Melanoma Research Foundation - Humanitarian Award, and the Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator Award.

Joan A. Steitz, Ph.D.
Dr. Steitz is Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is known for her discoveries involving RNA. Joan received her B.S. degree in chemistry from Antioch College, Ohio and studied molecular biology in Alex Rich's lab at MIT as an Antioch "coop" intern. She was accepted to Harvard Medical School, but having been excited by bench-science in the laboratory of Joseph Gall at the University of Minnesota, she declined the invitation to Harvard Medical School and instead applied to Harvard's program in biochemistry and molecular biology. She was the first female graduate student to join the laboratory of James D. Watson. Dr. Steitz completed her postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge (UK), where she collaborated with Francis Crick, Sydney Brenner, and Mark Bretscher. At Cambridge, Dr. Steitz discovered the exact sequences on mRNA at which bacterial ribosomes bind to produce proteins. In 1969 she published a seminal paper in Nature showing the nucleotide sequence of the bound start points. In 1970, Dr. Steitz joined the faculty at Yale. In 1975, she published the research for which she is widely known, demonstrating that ribosomes use complementary base pairing to identify the start sites on bacterial mRNA. Starting in 1979 with her MD/PhD student Michael Lerner, she identified novel cellular entities called snRNPs and defined their roles in splicing. Her later characterization of another kind of snRNP particle, snoRNPs, demonstrated conclusively that introns are not junk-DNA. Dr. Steitz has served as scientific director of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research (1991-2002) and as editorial board member of Genes & Development. She has been honored with many awards, including the National Medal of Science, the Lasker Prize and the Wolf Prize, and membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London (Foreign Member).

About the Hope Funds Award of Excellence
Honorees who receive this award are nominated through a formal process and selected based on their contributions to the field of cancer research and treatment, their integrity and character, and how they are regarded by their peers. The last three recipients of this award in basic science have subsequently been awarded the Nobel Prize.

About the James D. Watson Award
The James D. Watson Award was established by the Board of Trustees of Hope Funds for Cancer Research on December 13, 2013, to recognize discoveries that fundamentally change science and our understanding of life; the types of discoveries made by Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and James Watson. Dr. Watson, in 2014, was the first recipient, for his publication of the double helix structure of DNA, which can be regarded as a turning point in science: human understanding of life was fundamentally changed and the modern era of biology began. Dr. Steitz is the second recipient for her work at Cambridge, where she discovered the exact sequences on mRNA at which bacterial ribosomes bind to produce proteins. In 1969 she published a seminal paper in Nature showing the nucleotide sequence of the bound start points.

Hope Funds for Cancer Research
Hope Funds for Cancer Research was formed in 2006 to establish a funding vehicle that would take a rational scientific, medical, and investment approach to making grants for the most innovative and promising research efforts to address the most difficult-to-treat cancers, including pancreatic, lung, liver, sarcomas, esophageal, brain, gastric, renal and ovarian cancers, as well as rare leukemias, lymphomas and MDS. These cancers are insidiously aggressive illnesses that kill most of their victims within months, even with aggressive chemotherapy. The Trustees of the Hope Funds for Cancer Research believe that funding young, innovative researchers will lead to breakthroughs in these areas and increase life expectancy for those with these types of cancers. The Hope Funds for Cancer Research is a 509 (a)(1) charity under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service's code.  
For additional information about the organization, please visit or call (401) 847-3286. 
Hope Funds for Cancer Research: Advancing innovative research in understudied cancers 

Hope Funds for Cancer Research is an independent and unaffiliated non-profit organization
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