Hope Funds for Cancer Research
Press Release

Hope Funds Holds Annual Women & Science Luncheon

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
John A. Wells
NEWPORT, RI -- August 3, 2021-- Hope Funds for Cancer Research, dedicated to advancing innovative research for the most difficult-to-treat cancers, held its 2021 Women & Science Luncheon at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, on Sunday, July 25th, raising funds for postdoctoral fellowships.

The Program featured a panel of esteemed experts discussing the “Virtue of the Road Less Travelled,” which has been the source of some of medicine’s greatest discoveries, many made by women. Panelists highlighted risks they have taken in their careers or in their research that have led to important results. The panelists included a member of the Nobel Prize-winning LIGO Scientific Collaboration, a leading cancer researcher from Harvard/Beth Israel Deaconess, and two biotechnology executives whose companies are working on the cutting edge of research. The panel was moderated by the co-chair of the Hope Funds Scientific Advisory Council, Bluma Lesch, M.D., Ph.D.

The Panel was organized by Hope Funds Alumnus and Trustee Andrew Mullen, Ph.D. The Chairs for the event were Hope Funds Trustee Charles Holmes, Development Committee member Patricia Stensrud, and Hope Funds supporter Katherine Dean.

"This was a festive event with an engaging discussion that served as a reminder of how much we had missed being together, in person, to discuss important topics in scientific research," said Hope Funds Trustee Leah Rush Cann.

The organization exercised an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of guests, including holding the event outdoors and limiting seating to 80 guests on the famous Horseshoe Piazza.

“We are grateful for the support of the women, and men, who attended the Women & Science Luncheon, and especially our sponsors Brookline Capital Markets and A4 Architecture," said Andrew Mullen, Ph.D., Hope Funds Trustee, “There has never been a more exciting time to support novel scientific research.”

For more photos (all photos here from Julie Skarratt Photography): Photo Link

Panel Participants

Bluma Lesch, M.D., Ph.D., Yale University
Hope Funds Fellow (2012-2014), Hope Funds Scientific Advisory Council Co-Chair
Dr. Lesch is a Hope Funds Aluma Fellow who was a postdoc in the laboratory of David Page, M.D. at the Whitehead Institute at MIT, and is now a professor at Yale University. Bibi Lesch works on the genetics and epigenetics of reproduction and development, with a special interest in the evolution of epigenetic and chromatin states in mammals. Understanding the evolution of gene regulation in gametes requires integrating information across a wide range of biological scales, from the regulation of molecules to the development of individuals to the evolution of species. Dr. Lesch’s work brings together these divergent approaches to thinking about biology. Dr. Lesch earned her B.S. from Yale University in 2003. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2010 from Rockefeller University and her M.D. in 2011 from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA, from 2011-2017, where she was awarded an NIH Kirschstein postdoctoral fellowship and also named a Hope Funds for Cancer Research postdoctoral fellow. She received a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award for Medical Scientists in 2015, and returned to New Haven to join the Yale faculty in 2017.


Imre Bartos, Ph.D., University of Florida
Hope Funds Scientific Advisor
Dr. Bartos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at University of Florida and was previously in the Department of Physics at Columbia University. Dr. Bartos studies extreme cosmic explosions related to the formation and evolution of black holes. In particular, he is interested in multimessenger astrophysics, which aims to combine multiple cosmic messengers–gravitational waves, neutrinos, gamma-rays, etc., to learn more about astrophysical events. Imre is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, discovering gravitational waves from colliding black holes, and also a member of the IceCube-Gen2 Collaboration, which is developing the next generation of neutrino observatories to be located deep within the ice of Antarctica. He also works on the biological applications of optics to better understand neurological diseases.

Teri Loxam, SQZ Biotechnologies (Founded by Hope Funds 2020 Awardee Robert Langer, Ph.D.)
Ms. Loxam is the Chief Financial Officer of SQZ Biotechnologies. She has over 20 years of experience in Investor Relations, Strategy, Finance and Communications. She previously served as senior vice president of investor relations and global communications at Merck and Co. She also spent 11 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb in a variety of senior roles as well as VP at IMAX where she helped the company execute an IPO of their China business on the Hong Kong exchange. 

Frank J. Slack, Ph.D., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard University
Hope Funds Scientific Advisor and Mentor
Molecular biologist Frank Slack, Ph.D., an international leader in the study and understanding of microRNAs, a subset of non-coding RNA, became the director of the The Institute for RNA Medicine (iRM) at The Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, on July 1, 2014. Prior to joining BIDMC, Dr. Slack was a member of the Yale University faculty, most recently as a Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Director of the Yale Center for RNA Science and Medicine. He holds a doctorate in molecular biology from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed postdoctoral training at Stanford University School of Medicine and Harvard University.

Lavina Talukdar, Moderna Therapeutics (Founded by Hope Funds 2020 Awardee Robert Langer, Ph.D.)
Ms. Talukdar joined Moderna as Head, Investor Relations in April 2019 after a 20 year career as a biotech and healthcare investor. Most recently, she was a Senior Portfolio Manager at Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) where she led healthcare investments and led ADIA’s investment in MRNA. Prior to ADIA, she was a Partner and Senior Research Analyst for Lord Abbett & Co., Senior Analyst at MFS and Principal at State Street Global Advisors. She started her career in the late 1990’s covering biotech for Fiduciary Trust.

Hope Funds for Cancer Research
Hope Funds for Cancer Research was formed in 2006 to establish a funding vehicle that would take a rational scientific, medical, and investment approach to making grants for the most innovative and promising research efforts to address the most difficult-to-treat cancers, including pancreatic, lung, liver, sarcomas, esophageal, brain, gastric, renal and ovarian cancers, as well as rare leukemias, lymphomas and MDS. These cancers are insidiously aggressive illnesses that kill most of their victims within months, even with aggressive chemotherapy. The Trustees of the Hope Funds for Cancer Research believe that funding young, innovative researchers will lead to breakthroughs in these areas and increase life expectancy for those with these types of cancers. The Hope Funds for Cancer Research is a 509 (a)(1) charity under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service's code.  
For additional information about the organization, please visit or call (401) 847-3286. 
Hope Funds for Cancer Research: Advancing innovative research in understudied cancers 

Hope Funds for Cancer Research is an independent and unaffiliated non-profit organization
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