ICRF was founded in 1975 by a group of American and Canadian medical researchers, oncologists, and lay people who were committed to the growth and development of Israel and to combating the worldwide scourge of cancer. These visionaries were determined to harness Israel's educational and scientific resources in the fight against cancer, while stemming the "brain drain" of Israel's best and brightest scientists. Their solution: providing funds for postdoctoral fellowships for young Israeli M.D's and Ph.D.'s.
Their solution worked. In addition to ICRF's many achievements and medical breakthroughs by ICRF-supported scientists, the organization now has operating chapters in six cities in three countries - the United States, Canada and Israel -- with its international headquarters in New York City, plus active Boards of Directors for each chapter, an International Board of Trustees, and International Scientific Council, a Scientific Review Panel and a Scientific Advisory Board.
Even more, having two ICRF-supported scientists (Professors Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology) receive the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry is the kind of news that the founders of ICRF dreamed about in 1975 -- and that we have been hoping to hear ever since. That's an extraordinary achievement for our scientists, for ICRF and for the State of Israel by any measure.
Though that achievement garnered headlines around the world, ICRF-supported cancer researchers are responsible for many other major achievements.
Israel Cancer Research Fund embodies the dream of its visionary Founder,
Dr. Daniel G. Miller. Upon traveling to Israel, Dr. Miller made two critical observations: the exodus of talented Israeli scientists, due to a severe lack of funding….and the opportunity to stem that exodus by providing financial support to those brilliant women and men to enable them to remain in Israel and harness her rich resources for cancer research.
And so the Israel Cancer Research Fund was born to provide hope for all mankind and support for Israel herself. The rest is history, as unfolds below -
An ICRF Timeline
1975 ICRF is founded.
1977 The first five ICRF cancer research grants, valued at $25,000, are awarded to Israeli scientists at Tel Aviv University, Beilinson Hospital, Hadassah Medical School, the Weizmann Institute and the Israel Institute for Biological Research.
1980 The ICRF Scientific Advisory Board and the ICRF Scientific Review Panels are formally organized to set procedures to assure the selection of the highest quality cancer research for ICRF sponsorship.
1982 ICRF passes the $1 million mark in funding cancer research in Israel.
1982 An ICRF program to support clinical trials in Israel is announced at the ASCO meeting in St. Louis.
1982 The first cancer research laboratory in the Negev is established with ICRF support.
1982 Dr. Varda Rotter of the Weizmann Institute of Science is sponsored by ICRF to further explore the genetic machinery of the cancer cell and the role of the p53 gene in malignancy. By now, p53 is seen by many as the possible "key to the cure."
1983 ICRF hosts a mission to Israel. Donors meet the scientists they sponsor and tour their labs to see “first-hand” the critically important work they make possible.
1987 Dr. Moshe Oren's early research at the Weizmann Institute discovers the location and chemical nature of the common protein, p53, a tumor suppressor gene which prevents tumor growth.
1987 ICRF awards its first research Professorship to Dr. Howard Cedar at Hebrew University / Hadassah Medical School to study the regulation of gene expression.
1987 At the Weizmann Institute, Dr. Yair Reisner’s work is funded by ICRF in the mid eighties. Credited with greatly expanding the horizons of bone marrow transplantation, he later accompanied Dr. Robert Gale to Chernobyl after the nuclear disaster.
1988 ICRF passes the $5 million mark in funding cancer research in Israel.
1988 The first ICRF international cancer research conference - “Advanced Concepts in Cancer Research” - is attended by 200 in Tiberias, Israel.
1989 The ICRF International Scientific Council is formally organized to oversee and periodically review ICRF policy, direction and grant structure; its role is to augment the ICRF advisory board and review panels, guiding ICRF into the nineties.
1989 ICRF scientists are in the news with: The development of a powerful new Hepatitis B vaccine by Dr. Yosef Shaul as an “offshoot” of his work in liver cancer at the Weizmann Institute; The pioneering work of Dr. Shimon Slavin in the growth and expansion of Israel's bone marrow transplantation clinic, the largest such clinic in the Middle East; and An innovative psychological study of men and women with colon cancer and their spouses, conducted by Dr. Lea Baider at Hadassah University Hospital
1991 ICRF passes the $10 million mark in funding. That same year, the second ICRF scientific conference is held at Kibbutz Ma'aleh Hahamisha outside Jerusalem and ICRF awards seven fellowship/project grants to Soviet scientists resettling in Israel, meeting its mandate, while assisting in the assimilation of the sudden influx of millions of Jewish émigrés. The Soviet scientists are sponsored at Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv University, Kaplan Hospital and the Weizmann Institute.
1992 Dr. Eli Canaani and his team, supported by ICRF at the Weizmann Institute of Science, identify the molecular structure of the so-called “Philadelphia Chromosome,” the first abnormal chromosome found in leukemia.
1995 ICRF-sponsored, Dr. Alberto Gabizon and his team, develop Liposomal Adriamycin, now marketed as Doxil®, a highly-effective, new drug for Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a form of cancer in AIDS patients, and with promising activity against other cancers such as breast and ovarian cancers. Dr. Gabizon conducted his research at Hadassah University Hospital.
1997 As ICRF approaches its $20 million milestone in funding superior cancer research, Israel Cancer Research Fund marks the 20th anniversary of its first cancer research grants, awarded in 1977.
1997 Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad of Shaare Zedek Medical Center undertakes a national study to address three questions: What proportion of breast and ovarian cancer in Israel is caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations? What is the actual cancer risk for women who are mutation carriers? Is the cancer risk of those carriers influenced by reproductive or environmental factors?
1999 Dr. Yair Reisner of the Weizmann Institute and his team develop a novel bone marrow transplant technique for leukemia patients utilizing a marrow donor with only three immune markers in common with the patient instead of the normally required six, thus expanding the available donor pool for treatment.
1999 Dr. Tsvee Lapidot (a former student of Dr. Reisner) and his research team at the Weizmann Institute uncover key elements of the mechanism responsible for stem cell migration from circulating blood to the bone marrow that may further improve the success rate of bone marrow transplantation.
1999 Dr. Howard Cedar is recognized by the State of Israel with its prestigious national award, The Israel Prize in Biology, in 1999. He is acknowledged as a pioneer for his extraordinary achievements in understanding the processes of gene regulation, expression, and DNA replication.
2000 ICRF noted twenty-five years of dedication to eliminating cancer for the benefit of mankind by sponsoring Israel's most promising cancer researchers.
2000 Drs. Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and a colleague are named recipients of the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for the groundbreaking discovery of the ubiquitin system that regulates protein degradation and critically influences vital cellular events, cell cycles, and malignant transformation. The ubiquitin system has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many human diseases, including Alzheimer's. More than 60 Lasker laureates have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize.
2001 Dr. Eli Canaani's earlier research leads to the 2001 development of Gleevec®, a drug with extraordinarily-promising results in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia.
2001 Leading her team at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad discovers a genetic abnormality in the RAD51 gene which significantly increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer among women with the BRCA2 gene mutation. Further testing for the RAD51 gene mutation may one day become an important prognostic tool.
2002 A year of “firsts,” as ICRF Awardees include two Lasker Laureates, two ICRF Professorships, two Clinical Research Career Development Awards, and “father and son” Awardees.
2002 And yet another year of “firsts,” as ICRF awards three Professorships for the first time in its history.
2003 Based on the research of Drs. Ciechanover and Hershko, the first drug specifically targeted against the ubiquitin system, Velcade®, was developed and approved by the FDA. Velcade® is used for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.
2004 Drs. Ciechanover and Hershko become the first Israelis ever to win the Nobel Prize in the sciences for their discovery of the ubiquitin system.
2005 The first Barbara S. Goodman Endowed Research Career Development Award in Pancreatic Cancer is awarded, as the Israel Cancer Research Fund celebrates thirty years of hope and achievement.
2006 The ICRF Donor Recognition Park debuts at the Tower of Hope Gala.
2007 Six professorships are awarded by the Israel Cancer Research Fund in its 2007/2008 granting season.
2008 Seven professorships - the most ever and including the first to a woman, Dr. Yehudit Bergman - highlight the 2008/2009 research grants.
2011 Dr. Yosef Shiloh, Tel Aviv University, a recipient of an ICRF Professorship, is awarded the prestigious G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award by the American Association for Cancer Research for his studies of the cellular DNA damage response. Dr. Shiloh is also awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in Life Sciences.
2011 Dr. Howard Cedar receives the Canada Gairdner International Award for his pioneering discoveries on DNA methylation and its role in gene expression. More than 80 recipients of this esteemed award have subsequently won the Nobel Prize.
2012 ICRF awards its first Acceleration Grant, a new type of grant intended to speed up our understanding of the biology underlying cancer and to provide new knowledge that will rapidly enhance the development of innovative therapeutics.
2013 Four special grants are awarded under the Len and Susan Mark Initiative for Ovarian and Uterine/ MMMT Cancers to scientists at Bar-Ilan University, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Hebrew University/ Hadassah Medical School, and the Weizmann Institute of Science. Additionally, eleven Professorships are awarded – the most ever.
2014 With the 2014/2015 funding year, ICRF will have awarded over 2,000 grants and surpassed the $50 million mark in support of world-class cancer research conducted in Israel.
In 2015, Israel Cancer Research Fund celebrates 40 years of fighting cancer, and anticipates continued success along the road to the cures. With the valuable assistance of ICRF-funded scientists and our international family of friends, we feel confident that those cures will come from Israel.