ICRF Newsletter
May 2021
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Meet a few of our ICRF-sponsored scientists conducting research related to cancers of the skin.
Ofer Elhanani, PhD is the recipient of an ICRF Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Weizmann Institute of Science. His project seeks to characterize how the different cell types within a melanoma tumor interact with other cells, such as blood vessel cells and immune cells, in order to affect tumor aggressiveness (rate of growth, invasion of normal tissue) and, most importantly, the response to therapy.
Shoshana Greenberger, PhD, the recipient of an ICRF Project Grant, is also a practicing dermatologist at Chaim Sheba Medical Center. Tumor metastasis is the primary cause of death in melanoma patients and occurs through blood vessels and the lymphatic system. Her project aims to identify the substances produced by lymphatic vessels that allow tumor cells to initiate metastasis. The ability to identify and understand these substances holds promise for the development of novel treatments that will target these interactions and increase the efficacy of current anti-cancer drugs.
Yaron Carmi, PhD, of Tel Aviv University, is the recipient of an ICRF Research Career Development Award (RCDA). Since melanoma cells express a large number of altered and mutated genes, this scientist has found it surprising that patients do not generate sufficient immune responses against tumor cells, even after adjuvant therapy, such as chemo- or radiotherapy after surgery. By studying the molecular mechanisms that prevent the host from generating an effective immune response to melanoma, he hopes to design better therapies to accompany surgery that would lead to complete and long-lasting patient responses.
Katy Margulis, PhD, is also an ICRF RCDA recipient at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is using a mass-spectrometry-based imaging technique in order to develop a novel, rapid, and non-invasive method to diagnose two extremely dangerous skin cancers -- melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Using this technique, she hopes to be able to detect molecular patterns that are unique to these types of cancers and that can differentiate them from normal skin. Her ultimate goal is to develop a miniature device that can help dermatologists to easily diagnose these cancers during patient visits.
  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide. In the U.S., more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. More than two people die from the disease every hour.
  • There are several different types of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer—is very common, with more than five million people diagnosed each year. Because they rarely metastasize to other parts of the body, they are usually less concerning and treated differently from melanoma. Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent, reports the Skin Cancer Foundation.
  • An aggressive cancer, melanoma is more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body than the more common forms of skin cancer. According to estimates from the National Cancer Institute, 106,350 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2021 and 7,180 will die of the disease this year. In the past decade, the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 44 percent.
  • Melanoma is more prevalent in men than women and among people of fair complexion. Unusual moles, family history, and exposure to natural or artificial sunlight, including early history of sunburns and excessive use of tanning beds, over long periods of time can affect the risk of melanoma.
  • The risk of melanoma increases with age. The average age of diagnosis is 65 but is not uncommon among people younger than 30. Most melanoma, and other skin cancers, can be found early with monthly skin self-exams, a knowledge of risk factors, warning signs and symptoms, and annual skin cancer screenings. The estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent. Treatment protocols may include surgery, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Vaccines to treat melanoma are currently being studied in clinical trials.
Sources: American Cancer Society and the Skin Cancer Foundation

In a virtual orientation held last month, the leadership of ICRF welcomed eight new members to the international board and outlined the vision and mission of ICRF. The members are: Marsha Deakter, Richard Edelheit, Lesley Heller, Beth Kaplan, Nancy Maizels, Michelle Makori, Rhonda Mims and Charles Serlin.

Bryna Goldberg, Chair of ICRF's International Board, commented, "We had lively discussions with our new Trustees and it was exciting to listen to their suggestions. They are bringing strong leadership skills and diverse experiences to ICRF which will help enhance our performance as we emerge from the pandemic."

To read the biographies of the new members, click here.  

Susan and Len Mark of Stamford, Connecticut, have announced that they will fund two new grants of $300,000 each over three years to support established ICRF scientists studying the biology, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of ovarian and or uterine/MMMT cancers. This generous commitment is the third round of ovarian research funding from the family, bringing their support of ICRF to close to $3 million. The Marks are currently funding four ovarian cancer research grants, including two at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rambam Health Care Campus and Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Their funding was initiated in 2013, when Len’s sister, Gloria, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and has continued since her passing in January 2016.

The Marks have chosen to support the organization because “ICRF has brought together our desire to fight ovarian and other cancers, our lifetime commitment to Israel, and our wish to keep strong our memories of Gloria Mark Spivak.”

They were honored with the ICRF Tower of Hope Humanitarian Award at the annual gala in 2014. Upon accepting the award, Susan remarked: “It is very thrilling to be honored knowing that our gift might make a difference to the health and life of the world.”
In honor of National Cancer Research Month, please join us on May 4, 8 pm ET | 7 pm CT | 5 pm CT for a Journey of Hope, a live virtual interactive conversation with Jason Rosenthal and Paris RosenthalRegister here.

Jason and Paris are the father-daughter team behind the #1 New York Times bestselling book, Dear Boy. Jason's memoir, My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me was published last year. 

Read the viral New York Times Modern Love article: "You May Want to Marry My Husband."
With a planned gift to the Israel Cancer Research Fund, you can leave a philanthropic legacy that will help those touched by cancer – now and for years to come. Whether you would like to put your donation to work today or in the future, there are a variety of opportunities for making a legacy commitment to ICRF. Please visit our website to learn how you can create a lasting impact on the future of cancer research.
On April 18, ICRF Toronto welcomed over 850 virtual guests to its 19th annual Women of Action celebration, held in a virtual format for the first time. Honoring four extraordinary women for their significant accomplishments in business, scientific research, philanthropy and the community, the event raised over CAN $460,000 and introduced ICRF to many new supporters.

Women of Action Co-Chair and ICRF Toronto President Bonnie Fish commented, "We were thrilled to have such an enthusiastic reception for our virtual celebration of our wonderful honorees. The experience for our viewers was enhanced by an interview with cancer survivor and television personality Joan Lunden and musical performances by Toronto singer Lily Librach." 

Bryna Goldberg, Woman of Action Co-Chair and ICRF International Chair, added, "Bonnie and I were so pleased that with the help of ICRF Toronto staff and a strong Women of Action Committee, we were able to successfully pivot our annual luncheon to a virtual format. We look forward to welcoming our guests in person for our 20th anniversary Women of Action next spring."

To watch the video of the event, click here.
ICRF will team up with Just for Laughs, a trio of humorists, for a virtual evening of fun and fundraising on May 27 at 7 pm. This year’s 44th Annual Gala will be held in honor of Jodie and Cookie Lazarus, dedicated philanthropists whose lives have been deeply affected by cancer. According to Jodi, raising awareness and funds for cancer research have given them strength and courage during challenging times.

The gala host is comedian Elon Gold, who will be performing together with Tammy Pescatelli and Tom PapaNoah Billick and Peter Rosenthal are the evening’s chairs.
For more information, please contact Info@icrfmontreal.org.

“For my Bat Mitzvah I decided to raise money for the Israel Cancer Research Fund because I wanted to help the scientists in Israel find a cure for cancer.”

That’s what Annie-Rose Lent wrote on the website of her Bat Mitzvah fundraising page, channeling all of her Bat Mitzvah gifts to ICRF and raising nearly $20,000!

Annie-Rose, a student at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway in the South Shore of Long Island, is no stranger to philanthropy, especially ICRF. Her parents, Mordy and Jenny Lent, are regular contributors to ICRF and both of Jenny’s parents, Lynda and Ben Brafman, are Honorary ICRF Trustees. Mordy’s parents, Veda and the late Rabbi Simcha Lent A”H, also held leadership positions in their local Jewish community. The entire family supported Annie-Rose’s effort and take pride in her selflessness.

Learning of the success of Annie’s campaign. ICRF President David Abramson said, “This young woman clearly understands the meaning of the words 'Bat Mitzvah'."
Celebrate your birthday or honor a loved one by creating your own Facebook fundraiser for ICRF.

Use the new Amazon Smile App
(for both iOS and android)
to generate donations for ICRF
when you shop via Amazon Smile.
The Answer to Cancer is Research.

Israel Cancer Research Fund's mission is to support the best and brightest scientists conducting groundbreaking cancer research at all of the leading institutions in Israel. To date, ICRF has competitively-awarded over $78 million in funding for over 2,500 grants, making ICRF the largest nongovernmental funder of cancer research in Israel. Learn more at www.icrfonline.org.