The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center

Donor Sought to Fund the Sequencing of the Pancreatic Endocrine Cancer Genome

The pancreatic cancer research team recently completed the sequencing of the pancreatic cancer genome. All 21,000 known human genes were sequenced in a series of 24 pancreatic cancers (Jones et al, Science, 2008). This sequencing effort has already led to an understanding of how cigarette smoking causes pancreatic cancer, to the discovery of a new familial pancreatic cancer gene, and to the identification of prognostic markers of pancreatic cancer. A whole host of other efforts are now underway to translate the knowledge gained from the sequencing effort to early detection tests, an understanding of why pancreatic cancer runs in families, and new gene-based treatments. Simply put, cancer is fundamentally a genetic disease and by sequencing a cancer’s genome we can learn the fundamental nature of that cancer type. Remarkably, the pancreatic cancer genome was almost entirely funded by private philanthropy!

The team at Johns Hopkins now wants to sequence the pancreatic endocrine cancer genome (all 21,000 known human genes in a series of islet cell tumors / pancreatic endocrine neoplasms) and we are seeking a private donor to provide significant support for this effort. Ideally the team would like to sequence 24 pancreatic endocrine cancers.

A donation of $5 million is needed to sequence 24 pancreatic endocrine neoplasms. Six tumors could be sequenced with a donation of $1.25 Million, 12 tumors with a donation of $2.5 Million, and 18 tumors with $3.75 Million. This is a unique opportunity in the war against endocrine cancers of the pancreas! We have the biosamples and technology in hand. All we need is a generous donor to provide the funding!

If you are interested in learning more, please contact Dr. Ralph Hruban at Johns Hopkins (410-955-9791 or

Why Support Our Research?

While all efforts to advance our understanding of pancreas cancer are proceeding at a record pace, we have more leads than we have resources to pursue them. Financial support is needed to continue these efforts.

Some people give donations directly, some leave money to Johns Hopkins as a bequeath, and some ask that donations be sent in lieu of flowers. Each donation helps us explore new avenues of research, and each is a poignant reminder of the human cost of this disease.

Importantly, this private giving has provided us with the opportunity to make real advances in our understanding of pancreas cancer and it has provided critical support to our young investigators. Those of you wishing to support pancreas cancer research at Johns Hopkins may do so by sending your tax-deductible contribution payable to The Johns Hopkins University to:

Ralph H. Hruban, M.D.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
600 N. Wolfe Street
Carnegie 417
Baltimore, MD 21287

A number of you have asked us to spell out exactly where these donations go. We do not use the donations to support fundraising or other administrative efforts. Instead, 80% of each donation goes directly to support pancreatic cancer science--particularly our young investigators. These young investigators have wonderful creative ideas and they are at a point in their careers at which private giving can help convince them to join the battle against pancreatic cancer.

The remaining 20% of your donation goes to the Dean's office here at Hopkins. The Dean's Office supplies infrastructure support to the pancreatic cancer research labs (things such as paper towels, lighting, heating for the building, lab space, etc).

If you have any other questions about how you can help support pancreas cancer research, do not hesitate to give us a call: 410-955-9791.

In Lieu of Flowers

We receive a number of donations in lieu of flowers. This is a wonderful way to both honor a loved one and to help fight this terrible disease. These donations are made at very difficult times, and we therefore want to simplify the process. If you have lost a loved one and would like donations sent to Hopkins to help battle this disease in lieu of flowers, all you need to do is:

Ask the donor to:

  1. Make donations payable to: "Johns Hopkins University."

  2. Indicate on the memo line of the check the name of the individual in whose memory the donation is being made.

    donation check
  3. Mail the donation to:
    Ralph H. Hruban, M.D.
    Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
    600 N. Wolfe Street
    Carnegie 417
    Baltimore, MD 21287
  4. Please include the name and address of where you would like acknowledgments to be sent (or you may call our office at 410-955-9791).

    When we receive memorial donations, we send a thank you to the donor and we also send a complete list of the names and address of the donors to the relative of the deceased.

    We realize that the death of a loved one is extremely difficult. We hope these simplified instructions will help those of you who wish to honor your loved one with bequests to Johns Hopkins for pancreas cancer research.

Creating a Named Endowment for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Research requires money, and although most of the support for medical research comes from the federal government via the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is private philanthropy that can provide the margin of excellence to a research enterprise. Private funds are flexible and can be deployed quickly to take advantage of new ideas and new people. Private funds also can form a constant base for faculty support upon which grant support can be superimposed. Private funds are particularly needed to support research on pancreatic cancer. This is because pancreatic cancer research is woefully underfunded by the NIH. There have been several examples of private giving having a significant impact on a cancer. For example, the Clayton Fund in Basic Colon Cancer Research has laid the foundation for the remarkable success of the colon cancer research team here at Hopkins. Thanks to the Clayton Fund, many of the most significant discoveries in cancer biology in the last decade were made by the colon cancer team at Johns Hopkins (Bert Vogelstein who leads this team is now the most cited scientist in all of science).

Just as the Clayton Fund has had an impact on our understanding of colon cancer, so too would the establishment of a Fund for pancreatic cancer research have a fundamental impact on the fight against pancreatic cancer.

Endowments are wonderful ways to honor a loved one. Once established, the principal of the endowment is invested by the University. A portion of the income generated each year is reinvested to insure the long-term growth of the Fund. The remainder of the income generated is given to the scientists to support their research.

(Endowments start at $100,000. A plaque is placed in the research labs honoring the donor. If they reach the $10 million level, then the endowment can be used to name a research center).

Endowed Chair for Pancreatic Cancer Research

"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom"
~ Albert Einstein

The last five years have brought remarkable advances to our understanding of the genetics of pancreatic cancer. Indeed, at the genetic level, cancer of the pancreas is currently among the better characterized neoplasms. This growing understanding of the genetics of pancreatic cancer will form the basis of new screening and diagnostic tests for the early detection of pancreatic cancer; they are used to identify patients at risk for familial forms of pancreatic cancer; and they can be used to characterize even the most subtle pathologic changes, thereby advancing our understanding of early pancreatic neoplasia. In addition, and most importantly, an understanding of the genetic changes associated with the development of pancreatic cancer will form the foundation for developing novel, rational, gene-based therapies for pancreatic cancer.

The establishment of an endowed chair for pancreatic cancer research would allow us to pursue high-risk research work. We believe this work will advance our understanding of pancreatic cancer, not by small steps, but instead by leaps and bounds. All to often, scientists focus their efforts on "evolutionary" work because it is safer, and more of a sure bet. Endowed chairs allow scientists such to pursue revolutionary work. In addition named chairs are a wonderful way of permanently honoring the donor.

The cost for a named endowed chair is approximately $2.3 million.

Endowed Fellowship Training Program: New Technologies in Pancreatic Cancer Research

"The principal mark of genius is not perfection, but originality, the opening of new frontiers."
~ Arthur Koestler

Physicians and scientists must make critical decisions when they come to the end of their standard training. They must decide whether or not to pursue an academic career in research. Those who choose a career in research must then choose a sub-specialty area on which to focus their research efforts. These critical career choices are often made for rather trivial reasons. Countless physicians and scientists with enormous potential have chosen not pursue an academic research career because of a lack of a secure fellowship program.

At the same time, young minds are the most creative minds. Human creativity peaks at a rather young age; as our fund of knowledge increases our creativity paradoxically decreases. Indeed, some of the major new ideas in cancer research in the last several years have come from young scientists in their training. For example, Victor Velculescu here at Johns Hopkins created the idea for the revolutionary technology of serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE). Victor did this while he was a post-doctoral student in the Johns Hopkins cancer research laboratories.

We propose to create an endowed fellowship training program in pancreatic cancer research at Hopkins. This program will provide secured funding to young scientists and physicians wishing to pursue a career in pancreatic cancer research. The research fellowship program will not be a standard fellowship program. Instead it will take advantage of and most importantly encourage the creativity of the trainees. The fellow will not be a mere technician following detailed instructions from a mentor. Instead, the fellows will be given extensive free time and the fellowship will be focused on creating novel new technologies which can be applied to cancer research and on identifying new technologies, developed in other fields, which can be applied to pancreatic cancer research.

This approach will bring more minds to the battle against pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, the focus on creative spark will mean that our understanding will advance not in safe yet small steps, but rather in daring leaps.


1 Fellow (1 year X $50,000/year) $50,000
1 Fellow (2 years X $50,000/year) $100,000 (most Fellowships last 2 years)
Endowed Fellowship $1,700,000

Planned Giving

A number of people have asked how they can make a bequest and about other forms of planned giving. Planned giving can be a wonderful way to support pancreatic cancer research. Depending on the arrangements you choose you can also:

  1. Reduce your income taxes
  2. Get more favorable capital gains tax treatment
  3. Increase your spendable income
  4. Retain payments for life, and
  5. Achieve no-cost, worry-free asset management

To learn more about planned giving opportunities visit or contact the Planned Giving Office at Johns Hopkins:
Kathleen McNally, Gift Planning Advisor
Phone: (410) 516-7954

Special Fundraisers

There have been special events organized by family members of those afflicted with pancreas cancer to raise money for pancreatic research at Hopkins. Early visitors to the discussion board organized a major fundraising event, "Evening with the Stars", which raised over $100,000 to assist in starting a new laboratory at Hopkins. Now, a number of families, including the Rolfe, Zgonina and Monastra families, have organized fundraisers to benefit the pancreatic cancer reseacrh program here at Johns Hopkins. [more details]

What Your Donation Buys

One human gene contained within a cloning vector $10

Membranes for screening new genes $15

Reagents needed to isolate DNA from a patients' blood sample $20

A pair of PCR primers used to amplify one gene $30

Bacterial clone containing tumor-related gene $30

Vials for freezing tumor samples $35

Enzyme to precisely cut DNA $40

Scalpel blades for dissection of tumor samples $55

Enzyme to join DNA fragments $60

Updates to lab manual $70

Flasks for growing tumor cells $75

Radiolabel used to label DNA for sequencing and probing $100

Tumor cell line $100

Gel mix used to resolve DNA on gels $100

A vial of enzyme to modify or amplify DNA $100

Serum to grow cancer cells $130

DNA purification kit $150

Reagents to introduce genes into cancer cells $180

Purification kit for tumor-suppressor proteins $230

X-ray film to detect DNA sequence of a gene $270

Plates for drug-screening reactions $380

Enzyme to amplify DNA from tumors $400

DNA fragments to study a new gene $500

Lab refrigerator used in ongoing experiments $700

Digital camera for web page construction/updates $800

Set of pipettes to measure chemical solutions $900

Lab computer to access gene database $1,800

Ultraviolet light and camera to visualize DNA $2,000

Incubator for tumor cell culture $2,700

Set of DNA sequencing apparatus $3,800

Lab freezer $5,000

Centrifuge for drug screens and purifications $7,000

PCR machine to amplify DNA $9,000

Drier for DNA gels and purifications $12,000

Cancer Research Technician $30,000/yr

Drug library to screen for new therapeutics (19,000 drugs) $38,000

Research fellow and supplies $50,000/yr

Named endowment $100,000 and up

Named endowed research fellowship $1.7 million

Named endowed chair for pancreas cancer research $2.3 million

Named endowed pancreas cancer center $10 million

The monies raised through this Web page are distributed under the direction of Dr. Ralph Hruban, are used primarily by our young faculty (Drs. Goggins and Iacobuzio-Donahue), and primarily support our research on the early detection of pancreatic cancer, the familial aggregation of pancreatic cancer, gene expression in pancreatic cancer, and for the development of mouse models of pancreatic cancer. Donations also support pilot projects, the purchase of cutting edge technology and research by our resident and fellow trainees.

Your Donation Is More Important Than Ever!

Your donations are now more important than ever. The Federal Government continues to cut funding of our pancreatic cancer research efforts significantly. These cuts come at the very same time we have exciting important leads to pursue. Many of these leads come from the recently completed pancreatic cancer genome project (see Science. 2008 Sep 26;321(5897):1801-6 ). The partnership between private giving and pancreatic cancer scientists is therefore more important than ever.

Let us give you one specific example. In 2001, the team at Johns Hopkins submitted a renewal of our SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant application, applying for $1,750,000 direct costs per year (this component goes directly to the investigators), and $2,839,000 total funds per year (this includes all expenses, including the Hopkins "room and board" component for our buildings, heating, oversight, safety, etc.). This represented a slight reduction from the previous year's level of support for this same grant (never mind inflation!).

Even though the grant received one of the top pier-review scores, the grant was further cut with an across-the-board cut of grants at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The team actually received, for the next five years, only $1,610,000 direct, and $2,610,000 total for each year. This represented a 9% cut.

In 2006, the Hopkins pancreatic cancer research team was only allowed to apply for $1,500,000 direct, and $2,475,000 total for each year. This represented another 9% cut from the existing budget. Again, despite outstanding pier-reviews, the grant was again cut in an across-the-board cut of grants at the NCI. Despite outstanding scientific progress, the team now receives only $1,432,000 direct, and $2,363,000 total for each year. This represented another 5-6% cut.

The number of funded pancreatic cancer research projects and core functions of the SPORE team has remained rather stable over the past ten years. This means that each core and project on the grant is doing much less than it used to do ten years ago, despite a track record of considerable success and a growth in the number of qualified investigators on our team.

You can make a difference and help overcome these cuts to our pancreatic cancer research! You can help by supporting our research with your contributions. Every dollar counts.