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December 11, 2019

Israeli, US scientists team up to advance cancer research

Jerusalem Post | Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
One group of researchers will study fusion proteins that form in pediatric cancer. The other team will study the role of epigenetics in metastasis.
Dr. Mark Israel, Dr. Samuel Waxman and Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka (Photo credit: Jared Siskin)

An innovative cancer research program that pairs scientists in North America with scientists in Israel launched this week.

The Alan B. Slifka Foundation (ABSF), the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) and the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) have committed to harnessing their collective resources to advance research of rare pediatric cancers and the metastatic process.

Specifically, one group of researchers will study fusion proteins that form in pediatric cancer, prioritizing Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone disease that primarily affects children and young adults.

According to, about 200 children and teenagers in the United States are diagnosed with an Ewing tumor annually, which make up about 1% of all childhood cancers.

A second team of researchers will study the role of epigenetics in metastasis.

Epigenetics is the process by which genes get turned on and off. Metastasis is when cancer spreads from its original tumor site to other parts of the body. Metastasis is the leading cause of cancer death.

“We anticipate that the collaboration will move science to the clinic more rapidly with groundbreaking treatments,” said Dr. Samuel Waxman, founder and CEO of SWCRF. Waxman is also a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka, president and chairwoman of the Alan B. Slifka Foundation and an assistant professor in the Clinical Faculty at the Yale University School Of Medicine, said that long before she lost both her husband, Alan Slifka, and son to cancer, Waxman had explained to her that “the only way to beat this beast and cure cancer is through a collaboration of scientists and institutions.

“Scientists must share data and work together if we are to gain a better understanding of cancer,” she continued. “Academic institutions encourage competition. Although this kind of competition is well-intended, it can stifle an exchange of expertise across scientific disciplines and institutions. This is why I support a model of cross-institutional collaboration. As a cancer advocate and an Israeli, a three-way international collaboration with SWCRF and ICRF is exciting and promising.”

The ICRF and the SWCRF will jointly administer the research program. The selected investigators, each whom will receive $250,000 for two years, will be required to present their research findings each year at the SWCRF Annual Scientific Review held in New York City.

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