The Cancer Research Institute and the Lustgarten Foundation Announce INSPIRE Partnership to Jointly Support Pancreatic Cancer Immunotherapy Research 

NEW YORK, September 18, 2023 

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) and the Lustgarten Foundation have announced a new partnership focused exclusively on supporting pancreatic cancer immunotherapy research.   

The partnership, INSPIRE (Integrated Network for Supporting Pancreatic Cancer Immunotherapy Research Efforts), will encompass the established and ongoing adaptive platform trial, REVOLUTION, evaluating first-line chemo-immunotherapy treatment combinations for patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma, and will also expand into new areas of pancreatic immunotherapy research. This next wave in immunotherapy research reflects a shared commitment to transforming pancreatic cancer into a curable disease.   

“Building on CRI’s spirit of collaborating with the brightest scientific minds in the world, we’re excited to be partnering with the Lustgarten Foundation on this initiative. We can share our resources and expertise, which hopefully will improve patient outcomes and one day put an end to pancreatic cancer,” said Jay Campbell, Managing Director of CRI’s Clinical Accelerator and Venture Fund.  

Both powerhouses in the cancer research arena, CRI and the Lustgarten Foundation bring a collective 95 years to bear. In terms of the types of research that has been funded, both organizations bring rich historical perspectives to the table. The partnership leverages both CRI’s focus on leading the charge to advance immunotherapy research, resulting in millions of lives saved worldwide, and Lustgarten’s leadership and depth of knowledge in pancreatic cancer research.  

CRI has pioneered the field of cancer immunotherapy for the last 70 years and is ushering in the next wave of curative immunotherapies. CRI provides the leading scientific minds from around the world with the funding needed to make lifesaving immunotherapies an effective option for patients, with the goal of creating a world immune to cancer. To date, CRI has invested over $517MM in cancer immunotherapy research around the world.  

The Lustgarten Foundation is the world’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research, a driving force in every major development in pancreatic cancer research since its founding in 1998. For 25 years, the Foundation has advanced breakthroughs in the understanding of the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, providing more hope for the future. To date, the Lustgarten Foundation has funded more than $250MM in research grants.  

“Advances toward delivering immunotherapy to patients with pancreatic cancer are revealing themselves, and providing nimble, yet sustainable and collaborative infrastructure to the research is increasingly important. This is a partnership that simply makes sense, and we are very excited about what our shared knowledge and resources mean for the research community and patients, as well as for where the science will lead us through REVOLUTION,” said Jaclyn Lyman, Head of Clinical Research and Development at the Lustgarten Foundation.   

A focal point of the partnership, the REVOLUTION adaptive platform trial will continue enrolling patients seeking first-line chemo-immunotherapy combinations. Designed for flexibility, the trial allows researchers to test multiple hypothesis in parallel, leveraging clinical and translational data to inform decision-making and ensure they are embarking on the best next steps.    

“For patients with pancreatic cancer, we are activating the immune system in a way we have not before, and we are doing that selectively. Novel combinations of chemotherapy and immunotherapy may work together to offer benefit for patients with pancreatic cancer. This partnership will deliver bold, science-driven ideas, and advance clinical trials as the research progresses,” said Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and overall principal investigator for REVOLUTION. Dr. Vonderheide also serves as a member of CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council, and as a member of Lustgarten’s Translational Advisory Group, underscoring how this partnership will leverage and provide further efficiency to existing collaborations and brain trusts.  

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest types of tumors, and the number of diagnosed cases continues to rise each year. According to recent data, the numbers are staggering:  

  • Approximately 64,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2023.  
  • Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. will die in 2023.  
  • The five-year survival rate in the U.S. is 12%.  

Globally, the numbers are even higher:  

  • Worldwide, an estimated 495,773 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020.  
  • An estimated 466,003 people worldwide died in 2020.  

“Both the CRI and the Lustgarten Foundation have each invested heavily in understanding the biology of deadly cancers.  This investment has led to new opportunities to develop better treatments for patients.  By joining together, we can more rapidly build on this knowledge with the goal of identifying the best drug combinations that will improve the lives of patients with pancreatic cancer,” said Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, of The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Dr. Jaffee is an Associate Director of CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council and Chief Medical Advisor of the Lustgarten Foundation, further demonstrating the power of this partnership in approaching pancreatic cancer immunotherapy research.  

The INSPIRE partnership stands to harness the synergy, competency, efficiency and likeminded scientists of both CRI, and the Lustgarten Foundation, to bring about innovative and effective therapies to tackle pancreatic cancer across the globe.  

About the Cancer Research Institute 

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is the preeminent U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to saving more lives by fueling the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all cancers. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes four Nobel laureates and 33 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested over $517MM in support of research conducted by immunologists and tumor immunologists at the world’s leading medical centers and universities and has contributed to many of the key scientific advances that demonstrate the potential for immunotherapy to change the face of cancer treatment. To learn more, go to  

About the Lustgarten Foundation 

The Lustgarten Foundation funds the world’s preeminent pancreatic cancer researchers, driving the pursuit of bold and innovative science toward earlier detection, better treatments and transforming pancreatic cancer into a curable disease. Our mission is rooted in the belief that research is fundamental, in fact, it is the only way to produce real results. The Lustgarten Foundation is a catalyst in the field of pancreatic cancer research. Lustgarten-funded science has been a driving force in every major advancement in pancreatic cancer research since 1998. We believe time is everything for pancreatic cancer patients and their families. The Foundation funds research where creative risks yield high rewards to accelerate and expand life-saving treatment options. And we believe in the power of community. Lustgarten programs and events provide people affected by pancreatic cancer a voice and a place to create hope, together. The Lustgarten Foundation is the largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research and 100% of all donations fuel the research to advance understanding of this complex, devastating and historically underfunded cancer. For more information, visit   

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