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Target Cancer Foundation

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TargetCancer Foundation promotes the development of lifesaving treatment protocols for rare cancers. TargetCancer Foundation directly supports initiatives at the forefront of cancer treatment by funding innovative research, fostering collaborations, and raising awareness among scientists, clinicians, and patients. Executive Director for TargetCancer Foundation, Jim Palma, will be speaking at the NORD Summit next week! We’re thrilled to have him speaking at a session called, “Rare Cancer Treatment Challenges”! If you’re interested in hearing more on rare cancers, register for the summit here.

1.) What does it mean to you personally to be a patient organization serving the rare community?

In 2009, our founder and family member Paul Poth died at age 39 of cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer that received little research attention and had no effective treatments. Six years later, there are no major therapeutic advances in this disease, and patients are still facing the same difficult prognosis. Unfortunately, the same is true for many rare cancers, where a lack of research funding and basic research tools prevent progress from being made, leaving patients with few, if any, treatment options. Our mission to fund innovative rare cancer research is a very personal one, and one that is constantly renewed as we meet and talk to patients who are currently fighting rare cancers.

2.) What do you find your patient community values most from your organization?

We are a somewhat unique in the patient community in that we are focused almost exclusively on rare cancer research, however we communicate often with patients who typically are very actively involved as advocates for their own treatment. These patients value the knowledge that we gain from working very closely with the researchers we support, which allows us to provide up to date and breaking information about treatment options beyond the standard of care.

3.) What are some of the challenges your organization has faced?

As a small organization, one of our biggest challenges has been to identify ways to make an impact in rare cancer research with relatively small grants. With the help of our Scientific Advisory Board, we have developed a funding philosophy that has allowed us to succeed in this regard. By granting seed funding to critical projects that otherwise would not be supported at their initial stages, we support young, courageous scientists who are committed to finding therapies for rare cancers, and for whom modest grants make a major difference. We also facilitate formal and informal collaborations between researchers in varied disciplines, creating unconventional partnerships that require little resources, but accelerate the research timeline and lead to discoveries that would not otherwise occur.

4.) What has been your most successful awareness campaign and/or fundraising event?

We hold many events throughout the year, however our most successful has been our annual gala, A Night to TargetCancer. This year, on November 19, we are excited to hold our gala at Fenway Park for the first time. The event unites the scientific community, patients, patient families, and supporters to raise funds for our rare cancer research initiatives. Learn more about the gala at targetcancerfoundation.org/gala


955 Massachusetts Avenue, #343
Cambridge, MA 02139 USA



Email Address

[email protected]

NORD is happy to be putting the spotlight on TargetCancer Foundation this week. You can look forward to social media posts on our Facebook and Twitter accounts about TargetCancer throughout the week! Member Organizations to NORD interested in Member Spotlight should contact their regional membership managers at NORD to learn more!