MFAC Scores Ace for Cancer Research On and Off the Links

MFAC Scores Ace for Cancer Research On and Off the Links

More than 400 golfers enjoyed a day on the links at the 14th annual Mutual Funds Against Cancer (MFAC) Expect Miracles Golf Classic. Held June 12 at three different courses in Plymouth, Mass., this annual tournament raised more than $825,000 for the Center for Applied Cancer Science (CACS) at Dana-Farber.


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MFAC began when founder Frank Strauss’ mother, Sandra, was diagnosed with leukemia and treated successfully at the Institute. While visiting her, Frank could not help but notice the compassionate treatment and care DFCI patients received and was inspired to raise funds.


In response, he organized a friends and family golf outing, in which 48 participants raised $6,000 for Dana-Farber. Since then, the tournament has grown exponentially, raising more than $2.5 million since its inception and attracting top financial firms as sponsors, including Interactive Data Corp., State Street Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Citi, to name a few.


“At the time of my mother’s diagnosis, I felt that being in the financial industry meant that I might be in the right place to bring people together for this cause,” said Strauss, now MFAC chairman. “The industry has really embraced us, helping raise awareness about the need for funds to fight the war on cancer.”


Aside from its financial success—including maintaining an annual growth rate in excess of 50 percent—MFAC has enjoyed other notable achievements, such as being selected to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and being honored as “selected charity of the year” for a second year in a row at the Institutional Investors’ Mutual Funds Award Gala in 2008.


Driving drug discovery


Over the past year, Mutual Funds Against Cancer has directed its giving to specifically support CACS. Established in 2004, the center is dedicated to discovering cancer genes within tumors and translating this information into new treatments. Researchers focus their studies on six cancers that together cause approximately 60 percent of the cancer deaths in industrialized nations: brain, colon, lung, melanoma, myeloma, and pancreatic cancers.


Through the mapping of the human genome, CACS researchers have developed a more complete atlas of mutated genes that drive these cancers.


“The challenge now is to identify those mutations that are essential for the maintenance of the tumors,” said CACS Director Ronald DePinho, MD. “Drugs targeting these events are likely to be more highly effective than previous cancer therapies, in which only one out of every 20 such drugs would receive FDA approval. MFAC’s funding has helped us to make the cancer drug discovery process less costly and more efficient.”


Explained Strauss, “We chose to support the CACS not only because we wanted to show our supporters tangible results from the money raised, but also because we were very excited about Dr. DePinho. We are confident that these funds will allow him and his team to revolutionize cancer treatment.”

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