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The era of precision medicine is here and its promise to change clinical outcomes for patients with advanced cancers is just beginning

The Eileen Fund was created to advance the promise of better outcomes through iterative investigation to go after and defeat cancer at its core, aberrant molecular pathway activation leading to unregulated cell growth capable of taking a life.

Every hour trillions of our cells are following a metabolic pathway designed to sustain life and in doing so billions of cells replicate and create and maintain healthy tissues, the fabric of our lives. In this process, nature built-in protections for cells going through divisions to undergo programmed cell death (apoptosis) if unwanted changes occurred to that cell’s DNA or RNA, that could lead it to become a precancerous cell.

Unfortunately for some, the natural protective mechanisms that take out pre-cancerous cells are overcome, and a cancerous phenotype evolves and when established it rapidly replicates millions of times over eventually leading to a detectable mass (tumor) that if untreated takes the life of the individual.

Flask in scientist hand with laboratory glassware

Over the past two decades starting with the full characterization of the normal human genome, scientists have begun to create a registry of specific genetic changes such as mutations, translocations and deletions that enable a cell to grow and spread uncontrollably. In identifying the “driver” DNA change that confers the malignant phenotype, scientists have successfully identified medications that specifically target the expression of the driver and in some cases, this has led to cancer remissions, long-term survival and possible cures.

Another level of attack of cancer cells has come through taking advantage of the human immune system. The immune system is capable of recognizing, targeting and curing specific cancer types. However, most tumors can evade immune attack through down regulation of T cell function through engagement of T cell check points. Antibodies directed at check points to block tumor cell engagement have resulted in long term progression free and overall survival particularly when cancer cells have a high number of mutations (high mutational burden).

Too many patients, however, continue to acquire cancers where a target is not known, and they cannot be cured with available therapies. Whole genome sequencing and analysis of the transcriptome and proteome are now within the investigative sites of Eileen Fund researchers. Our scientists are using the latest breakthrough in tools aimed to dive deeper than ever before into the root causes of the malignant phenotype so to develop new and more effective therapies for every individual regardless of their cancer type or prior therapies. Targeting mutations with small molecules, facilitating the immune response with antagonist and agonist and altering the host microbiome are all the therapy types being brought to bear in our effort.

John Theurer Cancer Center Research Division

Changing the Future of Cancer through Collaboration

Through our partnership with the National Cancer Institute’s Immunology branch, Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, and Memorial Sloan Kettering, we are propelling advances in novel anticancer treatments, including immunotherapy and cellular therapies. Progress in the development, assessment, and FDA approval of these treatments is happening at an accelerating pace, and you may be able to benefit from these innovative therapies right here at John Theurer Cancer Center.

Translational Medicine

Translational research by definition brings knowledge from bench to bedside to offer as early as possible advanced options in difficult to treat cancers. This includes a strong dedication from John Theurer Cancer Center to customize treatment through precision medicine.


The Lymphoma Division at John Theurer Cancer Center involves a comprehensive team of professionals who are dedicated to treating patients with lymphoma (cancer of the immune system), which includes Hodgkin’s disease, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Embracing Precision Medicine

We are using precision medicine to tailor the optimal type and sequence of treatment for each of our patients. Our clinical experience and resources will allow us to implement precision medicine in ways that benefit patients today and in the future.