A $35 million gift from Marc and Lynne Benioff will support a new initiative at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) aimed at finding personalized treatments for prostate cancer.
“With this gift, we are honoring the memory of Marc’s father and all of those who have been lost to prostate cancer by working with the leading experts at UCSF to spare other families the pain of this terrible disease,” the Benioffs said in a university news article by Jason Alvarez.
The initiative, called UCSF Benioff Initiative for Prostate Cancer Research, aims to recruit researchers to UCSF and support high-risk, high-reward projects intending to better understand prostate cancer and how it develops, as well as finding new and more effective methods to diagnose and treat this disease.
“By investigating the biological pathways that drive prostate cancers to grow and spread, we hope to provide the foundation for developing the next generation of better therapies for this disease,” said Felix Feng, MD, the UCSF professor who will serve as the executive director of the new initiative.
Feng added that prostate cancer is lagging behind other common types of cancer — like breast, colon, and lung cancer — in terms of treatments that are tailored to an individual’s tumor, so-called precision or personalized medicine. With the support of this initiative, Feng and other researchers at UCSF hope to help fill in this gap.
“There are all kinds of prostate cancer, and each patient’s disease is unique. Relying on a single ‘magic bullet’ to stop all forms of the disease is a tall order,” said Rohit Bose, MD, PhD, a UCSF professor who will serve on its executive committee.
The researchers hopes within the next five years to identify new molecular drivers of aggressive prostate cancer, and to start clinical trials aimed at helping patients who aren’t responding to current treatments.
“This initiative will seek out and better understand the major drivers of prostate cancer and come up with new ways of combating the disease with better therapies,” said Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, president of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and also a member of the initiative’s executive committee. “This gift will allow us to produce knowledge that will benefit patients and the entire prostate cancer community, and we’re incredibly grateful to Marc and Lynne for their support.”
Marc Benioff is the founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, an enterprise cloud computing company.