With the goal of advancing a powerful cancer treatment strategy that uses immune cells to fight the disease, benefactors Ellen and Gary Davis have made a $2 million gift to Weill Cornell Medicine to drive ongoing research in immunotherapy, the institution announced.
This gift will launch the Ellen and Gary Davis Immune Monitoring Core, a critical research infrastructure that will serve as a repository for patient tumor samples, genomic sequencing, and bioinformatics. The core will analyze and provide centralized, sensitive, and quantitative patient data that investigators can use to advance their research into immunotherapy. The gift lays the cornerstone for further expansion in immunotherapy research and strengthens Weill Cornell Medicine’s position as a leader in the development of powerful new weapons in the fight against cancer. A portion of the gift will fund research collaborations between investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University, and Cornell Tech, strengthening the critical bridges between New York and Ithaca.
Lewis Cantley, PhD
“Immunotherapy represents one of the most exciting avenues of investigation for fighting cancer,” said Weill Cornell Medicine overseer Ellen Davis and Cornell University trustee and alumnus Gary Davis. “We are proud to be able to make this important investment, empowering Weill Cornell Medicine and its unparalleled oncology program, led by Lewis Cantley, PhD, as well as the distinguished investigators at Cornell in Ithaca and engineers at Cornell Tech, to realize the promise of immunotherapy.”
“Immunotherapy is an emerging frontier in medicine that, by leveraging patients’ own immune systems to confront cancer, has the potential to profoundly change the way we treat the disease,” said Dr. Cantley, Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell and Professor of Cancer Biology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Thanks to the Davises’ generosity and steadfast dedication to improving health, we will now be able to advance our understanding of this powerful therapeutic avenue, ensuring that more patients benefit from immunotherapy.”
The Davises first met Dr. Cantley in connection with a 3-year team science grant that they underwrote for The Melanoma Research Alliance to support his cancer research.
About the Core
The Ellen and Gary Davis Immune Monitoring Core will be a valuable, shared resource for Weill Cornell Medicine’s Meyer Cancer Center and Caryl and Israel Englander Institute for Precision Medicine. In order to drive new scientific breakthroughs and innovations that may enhance the potential of immunotherapy, the core will offer a robust technologic infrastructure that will allow investigators to analyze, sequence, and archive tumor samples, explore the tumor microenvironment, and conduct expression studies.
Bioinformatics technology will empower scientists to examine the array of data from those studies and translate their findings into assays that can be used to measure the efficacy of immunotherapy for each patient. Insights gleaned from those tests will be used to inform ongoing treatment decisions, determine effective adjunct therapies, and predict patient response and resistance to therapy.
Underscoring the special synergy between Cornell University, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Cornell Tech, the Davises have dedicated $400,000 of their gift to fund research collaborations between investigators in New York and Ithaca. The research support, offered through competitive grants, will enable investigators to drive new innovations in immunotherapy that will benefit patients in New York and beyond. ■