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Starr Foundation starts high-profile consortium with $100M

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The Starr Foundation, a New York-based private philanthropy group that gives out money for healthcare, medicine, culture, education, and more, recently announced the formation of the Starr Cancer Consortium, with funding of $100 million over five years. Member institutions include the Broad Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Bruce Stillman, president of the Cold Spring Harbor Lab, says the Starr Foundation’s goal is to promote “collaborative research in cancer,” noting that all of the $100 million is to be spent on inter-institute research.

The consortium will work on the development and application of new technologies to advance the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as well as on bringing in clinical expertise and patient research, Stillman says. “It’s an opportunity for basic scientists to integrate with clinicians,” he adds.

The finer points of the consortium’s operations, however, have yet to be worked out. This month, institute leaders and a number of staff from each organization will gather to “see what the cancer researchers in the various institutions want,” Stillman says. “We hope to have a lot of input from the faculty about what they want to do.”

The concept for the consortium began early this year, when the five institute heads — Stillman, Eric Lander, Harold Varmus, Paul Nurse, and Antonio Gotto — got together and discussed how a partnership might work. They presented the idea to the Starr Foundation, a longtime supporter of collaborative healthcare research that had previously funded a multi-institute stem cell initiative in New York.

“Our goal in launching the Starr Cancer Consortium is to bring these exceptional institutions together in a manner that assures maximum efficiency and the greatest firepower in targeting cancer,” says Maurice Greenberg, chairman of the Starr Foundation. “This will enable us to achieve tangible results more quickly and decisively than any one or two members of the consortium could accomplish working alone.”

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