Ludwig Cancer Research

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Ludwig Cancer Research
FounderDaniel K. Ludwig
FocusCancer Research
HeadquartersNew York, NY, USA
Zurich, Switzerland (European Office)
Area served
Key people
Edward A. McDermott, Jr., President and CEO Chi Van Dang, PhD, Scientific Director

Ludwig Cancer Research is an international community of scientists focused on cancer research, with the goal of preventing and controlling cancer.[1] It encompasses the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, an international non-profit organization founded in 1971 by philanthropist Daniel K. Ludwig. The Institute is headquartered in New York City, with a European office located in Zurich. In addition, six Ludwig Centers were established at leading US cancer research institutions. Together, the Institute and Centers are known as Ludwig Cancer Research.

Since its founding in 1971, Ludwig Cancer Research has committed more than US$2.5 billion to cancer research. Ludwig Cancer Research focuses on both basic research and translational research, with specific emphasis on cell biology, genomics, immunology, neuroscience, prevention, cell signaling, stem cells, therapeutics, and tumor biology, as well as clinical trials and the design and development of small molecules with drug-like properties.[2] Its researchers also focus on particular types of malignancy, including brain cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma.[3]

Founder and history[edit]

Daniel K. Ludwig was a shipping magnate and real estate investor. Born in South Haven, Michigan in 1897, he used a $5,000 loan from his father to create a global business based on a fleet of supertankers.[4] In the 1960s and 1970s, Ludwig was among the richest men in the world, owning approximately 200 companies.[5]

He founded the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research as an independent organization in 1971, the same year that the “War on Cancer,” declared by his friend President Richard Nixon, led to the establishment of the US National Cancer Institute.[6] Ludwig believed that tackling the problem of cancer required the best minds operating in the most favorable conditions with the best resources to accomplish the task. This principle continues to guide Ludwig Cancer Research.[7]

Daniel K. Ludwig endowed the Institute with all of the foreign assets from his business holdings. Upon his death in 1992, that endowment had grown to more than $700 million,[4] and, as of 2012, it stands at more than $1.2 billion.[6]

After Ludwig's death, his US-based assets were also put into a trust to support additional cancer research efforts. These funds led to the establishment of Ludwig Centers at six research institutions in 2006.[8] The Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Ludwig Centers have been known collectively as Ludwig Cancer Research since 2012.[9] In total, Ludwig Cancer Research has committed more than US$2.5 billion to cancer research worldwide since 1971.[10]

Mission and goals[edit]

The primary objectives of Ludwig Cancer Research are to prevent and control cancer through basic and translational research.[1]



Lloyd Old, the organization's former director, and scientific chairman, participated in the discovery of Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)[11] and the tumor suppressor p53.[12] He contributed to the immunosurveillance hypothesis, from which modern cancer immunotherapy can be derived.[7]

Thierry Boon, former director of the organization's Brussels branch, made foundational contributions to the field of cancer immunotherapy. The prevailing model of carcinogenesis in the late 1970s held that spontaneously arising tumors were unlikely to elicit immune responses. Boon and his team, who believed otherwise, were the first to isolate genes that code for a family of tumor antigens and show that T cells could recognize and target cancer cells bearing such antigens.[13] This theory is being tested in a number of current clinical trials.[14]

Ludwig researchers in Melbourne discovered and cloned[15] the granulocyte-monocyte colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) through a collaboration with Australian immunologist Donald Metcalf. The factor is essential to the maturation of key white blood cells, and has been used extensively over the past few decades to help rebuild the immune system of patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is also being tested as a therapeutic agent in combination with several experimental immunotherapies for cancer. The Oncology Drug Advisory Committee of the US FDA recently recommended approval for T-VEC, a viral therapy for melanoma manufactured by Amgen that incorporates the gene for GM-CSF to support anti-cancer immune responses.[16]

Ludwig researchers in São Paulo played a role in establishing that human papillomavirus (HPV) infection causes cervical cancer. They ran the largest epidemiological studies of HPV infection and reported that chronic, though not transient, infection by the virus dramatically increases the risk of cervical cancer, laying the groundwork for the clinical development of an HPV vaccine.[17]

Current and former Ludwig researchers contributed to an emerging class of cancer immunotherapies known as checkpoint inhibitors. They explored the underlying immunology of the response and played a role in evaluating the first such drug in clinical trials for the treatment of advanced melanoma.[18] This led the development of new criteria for evaluating responses of cancer patients to immunotherapy in clinical trials.[19]

Cell signaling[edit]

Contributions to the field of cell signaling include the identification of signaling pathways and subsequent development of therapies. An example is the PI3K family of proteins, which play a key role in cell signaling that fuels cancer.[20] This research led to the first Ludwig spin-off, a biotech named Piramed Ltd., which sought to develop cancer therapies based on this discovery. The company was purchased by the pharmaceutical company Roche. Drugs based on these discoveries are today being tested to treat several types of cancer, including breast and lung cancer.[7]


Contributions in the field of genomics include the work of Ludwig researchers at Johns Hopkins to sequence the full complement of genes expressed in many cancers, including head and neck, colon, and breast cancers, as well as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Ludwig researchers in San Diego significantly advanced studies of the epigenome, leading such efforts as the NIH's Roadmap Epigenomics Project.[21]


The Ludwig Cancer Research board of directors helps oversee both the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the Ludwig Fund. Although each of these entities has its own board, the boards comprise the same individuals.[22] The current chairman of the board is John L. Notter, an international financier and developer affiliated with a variety of companies, including Westlake Properties, Inc.[23]

The executive staff manages the organization's worldwide efforts. Edward A. McDermott, Jr has been with the organization since 1988 and its CEO since 2010.[24]

It was announced in December 2016 that Chi Van Dang will take over the role of Scientific Director in July 2017.[25] He will be responsible for coordinating the organization's global research efforts and activities.

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable awards received by past and present employees affiliated with Ludwig include:

National Medal of Science (US):

Fellows of the National Academy of Sciences (US):[30]

Academy of Medical Sciences (UK):[38]


Branches and laboratories[41]

Ludwig Centers[41]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "About Us". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  2. ^ Weintraub, Karen (6 January 2014). "Six cancer centers to share $540 million research gift". USA Today. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Collaborative Areas". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b Pace, Eric (29 August 1002). "Daniel Ludwig, Billionaire Businessman, Dies at 95". New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  5. ^ Valdmanis, Richard (2014-01-06). "Billionaire Ludwig's estate donates $540 million for U.S. cancer research". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-06-15.
  6. ^ a b Marshall, Eliot (6 January 2014). "A Billionaire's Final Gift to Six US Cancer Centers". Science. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Lane, Sir David (August 2014). "Trusting in Talent: How Daniel K. Ludwig's formula for success has fuelled four decades -- and counting -- of top-notch cancer research". Oncology News. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  8. ^ Notter, John (10 April 2014). "Scientific Leaps Require Donors to Give Bigger". Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  9. ^ "New Paths of Discovery: 2012 Research Highlights" (PDF). Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  10. ^ Lane, Sir David (24 March 2014). "Fighting Cancer With Smart Funding". Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  11. ^ Old, Lloyd J.; et al. (October 1985). "Purification and characterization of a human tumor necrosis factor from the LuKII cell line". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 82 (19): 6637–6641. doi:10.1073/pnas.82.19.6637. PMC 391265. PMID 3863119.
  12. ^ Old, Lloyd J.; et al. (May 1979). "Detection of a transformation-related antigen in chemically induced sarcomas and other transformed cells of the mouse". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 76 (5): 2420–2424. doi:10.1073/pnas.76.5.2420. PMC 383613. PMID 221923.
  13. ^ Coulie, Pierre G.; et al. (24 January 2014). "Tumour antigens recognized by T lymphocytes: at the core of cancer immunotherapy". Nature Reviews Cancer. 14 (2): 135–146. doi:10.1038/nrc3670. PMID 24457417. S2CID 205469848.
  14. ^ "Search results for "MAGE"". Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  15. ^ Gough, N.M.; et al. (March 1985). "Structure and expression of the mRNA for murine granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor". The EMBO Journal. 4 (3): 645–653. doi:10.1002/j.1460-2075.1985.tb03678.x. PMC 554237. PMID 3874057.
  16. ^ Davenport, Liam (28 May 2015). "Injectable T-VEC Offers Hope to Melanoma Patients". Medscape. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  17. ^ Villa, L.L. (November 2007). "Overview of the clinical development and results of a quadrivalent HPV (types 6, 11, 16, 18) vaccine". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 11 Suppl 2: S17–25. doi:10.1016/S1201-9712(07)60017-4. PMID 18162241.
  18. ^ Hodi, F. Stephen; et al. (19 August 2010). "Improved Survival with Ipilimumab in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma". The New England Journal of Medicine. 363 (8): 711–723. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1003466. PMC 3549297. PMID 20525992.
  19. ^ Wolchok, J.D.; et al. (1 December 2009). "Guidelines for the evaluation of immune therapy activity in solid tumors: immune-related response criteria". Clinical Cancer Research. 15 (23): 7412–7420. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-1624. PMID 19934295.
  20. ^ Katso, R.; et al. (2001). "Cellular function of phosphoinositide 3-kinases: implications for development, homeostasis, and cancer". Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. 17: 615–675. doi:10.1146/annurev.cellbio.17.1.615. PMID 11687500.
  21. ^ Vogelstein, Bert; et al. (29 March 2013). "Cancer Genome Landscapes". Science. 339 (6127): 1546–1558. doi:10.1126/science.1235122. PMC 3749880. PMID 23539594.
  22. ^ "Leadership". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  23. ^ "John L. Notter". Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  24. ^ "Edward McDermott Jr". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  25. ^ "Press Release". Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  26. ^ a b "Lucy Shapiro Lab". Stanford University. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  27. ^ "The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  28. ^ a b "M.I.T. Center". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  29. ^ "The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  30. ^ "Member Directory". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  31. ^ "Web Cavenee Lab". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  32. ^ "Don Cleveland Lab". Ludwig Cancer Research. Archived from the original on 12 December 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  33. ^ "Richard Kolodner Lab". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  34. ^ "MSK Center". Ludwig Cancer Research. Archived from the original on 18 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  35. ^ "Stanford Center". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  36. ^ "Johns Hopkins Center". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  37. ^ "Harvard Center". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  38. ^ "Fellows Directory". The Academy of Medical Sciences. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  39. ^ "Xin Lu Lab". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  40. ^ "Peter Ratcliffe Lab". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  41. ^ a b "Location". Ludwig Cancer Research. Retrieved 15 August 2015.

External links[edit]