Two years after an historic fundraising telecast and the start of a groundbreaking grassroots movement, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) will return to primetime television on September 10, 2010, at 8PM EDT & PDT / 7PM CT, with a star-studded appeal to build continuing public support and donations for cutting-edge cancer research that translates at a rapid pace from the laboratory to treatments and technologies that benefit patients.
Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams announced the upcoming show during individual live appearances on CBS’s “The Early Show,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “TODAY” show, respectively. The three network evening news anchors — who will host the September 10th telecast, executive produced by Laura Ziskin — participated in an interview together last week, discussing the upcoming fundraising event as well as the encouraging progress of “Dream Teams” of researchers SU2C has funded to date. Portions of that interview, the first joint appearance by this group of anchors, also aired on the morning shows.
ABC, CBS and NBC are donating one hour of simultaneous commercial-free primetime for the nationally televised September 10th fundraising special, to be telecast from Los Angeles. Similar to the landmark 2008 broadcast, this year’s telecast will feature live performances of legendary recording artists and stars from film, television and sports who will present content providing viewers with insights into cancer. While the broadcast will honor the memory of those taken by the disease, it will focus on surviving cancer on living a full life after being diagnosed with it. In the United States alone this year, 1.4 million people will be diagnosed with cancer.
HBO, Discovery Health, E!, MLB Network and The Style Network will also carry the show this year, and other networks and cable channels are also expected to join the effort. The program will include calls to donate through designated phone lines, as well as to the standup2cancer.org web site. One hundred percent of all public donations will go directly to cancer research.
The primary goal of SU2C is to raise funds for groundbreaking translational research to accelerate the delivery of new therapies to patients, getting them from the “bench to the bedside” as quickly as possible. SU2C brings together scientists from different disciplines across various institutions to work collaboratively — rather than competitively — at a critical time in the field of cancer research.
“Every day, cancer kills 1,500 Americans one person every minute,” said executive producer Laura Ziskin. “This year, more than 560,000 Americans and eight million people worldwide will succumb to the disease. One in three women and one in two men will be diagnosed in their lifetimes. This is simply unacceptable. Our goal with this telecast is to not only continue to raise funds to accelerate promising research, but also show viewers how their money and individual action will make — and have already made — a difference. The scientists and our nation are poised to break through the final barriers to truly make this the beginning of the end of cancer.”
The original SU2C telecast on September 5, 2008 aired on ABC, CBS, NBC and E!, and was viewed in more than 170 countries. Throughout the program, many scientists and celebrities stood together in an unprecedented display of unity to combat cancer, including the late Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Aniston, Rob Lowe, Halle Berry, Ellen DeGeneres, Charles Barkley, Christina Applegate, Lance Armstrong, Tina Fey, Kirsten Dunst, Jack Black, America Ferrera, Neil Patrick Harris, Salma Hayek, Scarlett Johansson, Robin Roberts, Meryl Streep, Forest Whitaker and Abigail Breslin. Musical performers included Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, Melissa Etheridge, and a group that included Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Fergie, Carrie Underwood, Mary J. Blige and several other recording artists.
Commenting on SU2C, the evening news anchors said:
“Stand Up To Cancer is a populist movement,” explained Katie Couric. “People of all ages are getting involved…Not only people who have cancer or who are dealing with it, but young people who want a cancer-free world in their future we really think that’s finally attainable.”
“The broadcast is a way of saying, ‘Together, we can do this’ said Diane Sawyer. “And yes, we’re losing one person every minute, but 11 million survivors are out there; living proof that this can be done. It will also be an opportunity for everybody to figure out concrete ways that they can do the things that they connect to the most strongly.”
“I try to remind people,” said Brian Williams, “We won the Second World War, came back from that, and decided to go to the moon. We didn’t really break a sweat. And when you think about it, think of all that energy and power we can unleash when we want to. As we said when we first embarked on this, if enough people stand up and say, ‘No, we’re not going to do this anymore,’ we can do this.”
The 2008 telecast helped raise more than $100 million, and more than $83 million has since been committed to five multi-disciplinary “Dream Teams” of researchers from more than 50 institutions, as well as to 13 young innovative scientists who are undertaking high-risk, potentially high-reward projects to end the reign of cancer as a leading cause of death in the world today.
The American Association for Cancer Research is the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer. AACR is responsible for administering the grants and providing scientific oversight in conjunction with the SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee, led by Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., institute professor at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with vice chairs: Brian J. Druker, M.D., director of the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute, and Arnold J. Levine, Ph.D., professor at the Institute for Advanced Study and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
Collectively, the research underway through the SU2C Dream Team projects has the potential to impact the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of cancers in adults and children across ethnicities including pancreatic, breast, ovarian, cervical, uterine, brain, lung, prostate, rectal and colon, and leukemia and lymphoma, which represent approximately two thirds (373,300) of all U.S. cancer deaths.
All these projects have the potential to significantly advance the understanding of the complex mechanisms that cause cancers to occur and spread; to lead to the development of a new generation of targeted therapies, more improved and less toxic cancer treatments, including difficult to treat cancers; and to improve the methods of diagnosing cancers and monitoring the effects of treatment.
“For people struggling with this disease, or those who will be diagnosed, scientific breakthroughs can be a matter of life or death — literally. We want everyone to know that they can make a difference in this fight,” said Sherry Lansing, SU2C co-founder, who also established the Sherry Lansing Foundation and is Chair of the Entertainment Industry Foundation Board of Directors. “From the person who can give five dollars to the philanthropist who can give millions, we are all connected to the devastation that cancer causes in our families, and together, we can Stand Up to end it.”
The SU2C funding model has fostered collaboration and innovation, and the unprecedented sharing of ideas and pooling of resources across institutions. Less than one year after the announcement, all five Dream Teams have clinical trials planned or at various stages of development. The September 10th broadcast will highlight examples of the Dream Teams’ progress to date, including:
* The Epigenetics Dream Team: Recently, scientists and researchers discovered the epigenome, which is the material surrounding DNA. When this material behaves badly, it sends inaccurate signals and actually causes cancer. Manipulating this epigenetic material or reversing how it’s behaving can attack the cancer itself. This SU2C Dream Team tested a combination of drugs in preliminary, Phase I clinical trials and saw tumors shrink in a group of patients with small cell lung cancer, who had previously been treated, unsuccessfully, with three different chemotherapy regimens. The Dream Team is enrolling patients in the first Phase II clinical trial of epigenetic drugs to confirm and build on these results.
* The Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team: This SU2C Dream Team is conducting clinical trials to test new ways of cutting off the fuel supply to pancreatic cancer. One set of trials uses a drug to break through the tough coating surrounding the cancer so that a second drug can kill the cancer cells. This drug combination is showing positive preliminary results in actually shrinking tumors. Another effort is aimed at examining a tumor’s metabolism to personalize treatment for individual patients so that the effectiveness of treatment is maximized and side effects are minimized. The team is also developing new ways to get images of pancreatic cancer, so that the tumor’s response to treatment can be observed. This will make personalized treatment a reality for pancreatic cancer patients.
* The PI3K Pathway Dream Team: This SU2C Dream Team has pooled resources from seven major cancer centers to survey thousands of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers to look at a group of genes involved in cell growth. These genes make up an information pathway that, when broken, can allow cells to grow uncontrollably. The team is enrolling patients with these phosphoinositide PI3- kinase (PI3K) mutations into clinical trials to test combinations of drugs to attack multiple problems with breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. The team use biomarkers to decide which combination of drugs will best treat the individual patients.
* The Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Chip Dream Team: This SU2C Dream Team has developed a microfluidic chip smaller than a business card to detect and analyze cancer cells circulating in our blood. They are working on an improved version of the chip to better look at the genetic and functional characteristics of CTCs in a large-scale clinical setting. This technology will be used to answer questions about how cancer spreads throughout the body, how to detect metastatic cancer early, and most importantly how to stop it from occurring.
* The Breast Cancer Dream Team: This Dream Team is studying three subtypes of breast cancer to understand how they become resistant to targeted drugs. They are examining mechanisms of drug resistance at a molecular level to understand how to avoid or to completely circumvent the cancer’s defenses. They are moving forward to evaluate and test drugs and new drug combinations to find the ones that should and can be tested on patients with specific cancer subtypes in clinical trials. A state-of-the-art information platform has been established that uses systems biology approaches to catalog and mine breast cancer data gathered from several resources.
For more detailed information about the Dream Teams, individual Innovative Research Grants and other Stand Up To Cancer activities, www.standup2cancer.org fosters an online community for everyone interested and affected by cancer, with various ways for people to share information, opinions and support, view video updates, contribute and learn of ongoing initiatives and progress in the fight against the disease. A key feature of the web site is the Star Constellation: For a dollar donation or more, users can launch a star in honor of anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis; SUTV: Video segments rich in scientific and research information, including profiles of the five SU2C Dream Teams featured in “The Lab” channel, as well as ones that confront cancer’s human and personal impact; and SU2C Magazine: Diverse content describing cutting-edge research and offering unique perspectives of cancer researchers, patient advocates and others. The online community provides ample opportunity to share SU2C’s efforts via a variety of social media outlets, including Twitter, Facebook, AOL, MySpace, YouTube, flickr and several other sites that are accessible through the SU2C website. SU2C is implementing ongoing grassroots efforts and is participating in national and regional events to raise awareness and funds.
About the Stand Up To Cancer Initiative
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) — a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)3 charitable organization — raises funds to hasten the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. In the fall of 2007, a group of women whose lives have all been affected by cancer in profound ways began working together to marshal the resources of the media and entertainment industries in the fight against this disease.
The SU2C founding members include Laura Ziskin, executive producer of the Sept. 5, 2008 broadcast and the upcoming one, who is a cancer survivor; Sherry Lansing, chairperson of the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Board of Directors and founder of the Sherry Lansing Foundation; EIF President and CEO Lisa Paulsen; Katie Couric; EIF Senior Vice President Kathleen Lobb; Rusty Robertson and Sue Schwartz of the Robertson Schwartz Agency; nonprofit executive Ellen Ziffren; and Noreen Fraser, founder of the Noreen Fraser Foundation (NFF) and a cancer survivor. SU2C was formally launched on May 27, 2008.
Major League Baseball was the founding donor to contribute to Stand Up To Cancer. Other major SU2C supporters include Sidney Kimmel, the country’s largest individual supporter of cancer research, Amgen, Bloomberg Philanthropies, GlaxoSmithKline, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Wallis Annenberg & The Annenberg Foundation, Alliance for Global Good, Milken Family Foundation, Philips Electronics, Steve Tisch, The Island Def Jam Music Group, and many others. In addition to ABC, CBS and NBC, SU2C major media partners include AOL, Conde Nast Media Group, eBay Inc., Facebook, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., Hearst Corporation, Los Angeles Times, Meredith Corporation, The New York Times Company, Time Inc and WebMD.
About the AACR
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), which consists of more than 31,000 scientists engaged in the fight against cancer, is the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world focusing on every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research from the bench to the bedside. Lauded internationally for its scientific breadth, innovation and spread of new knowledge about cancer, the AACR is on the front lines in the quest for the prevention and cure of cancer.
About the Entertainment Industry Foundation
Stand Up To Cancer is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that serves as the collective philanthropy for the television and film businesses. EIF has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to support programs addressing critical health, education and social issues.