The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Founded in 1980, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) now generates more than $35 million each year in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a leading cancer treatment center in Boston. The majority of funds raised by PMC go to Dana-Farber as unrestricted gifts that fund some of the institute’s most important treatment and research efforts.

One of the major research projects at Dana-Farber, Profile, looks at gene mutations possibly linked to cancer. At present, Profile looks for about 500 different possible mutations in 41 genes. The Profile project strives to develop therapies that target genetic causes of cancer. In addition to Profile, PMC funding supports the Longwood Research Center, which will help 30 independent investigators undertake their own research while initiating collaborative efforts when the facility opens in late 2014. Dana-Farber has used the center to attract the most promising researchers to Boston as part of its staff.

To fuel new discoveries, Dana-Farber utilizes a significant amount of PMC funding to attract future oncology leaders and provide them with a high level of training. The institute is an affiliate of Harvard and teams young doctors with senior faculty able to guide their research. To that end, PMC funding also provides early stage support for researchers with especially innovative ideas. In addition, Dana-Farber must often grant bridge funding between grants so that researchers can continue their work.

Outside of research, Dana-Farber remains committed to improving community health. Recently, the institute used PMC funding to complete a health needs assessment for underserved parts of the greater Boston area. Another initiative will supplement the Mammography Van, which already screens more than 4,000 women annually, to raise awareness of breast cancer in surrounding neighborhoods.

Tim Broas

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