PRESS RELEASE: New York City Based Scientists Awarded Funding For Their Innovative Work In Cancer Research By The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Alliance

The Pershing Square Sohn Prize winners are making bold advances in research for leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic, prostate, skin, lung, and breast cancer

NEW YORK, May 7, 2015 – Six winners of the second annual Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research were announced today by The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance. Each will receive $200,000 of funding per year for up to three years to enable them to continue to pursue explorative and high-risk/high-reward research. In addition to the six winners, two other finalists will be awarded funding for one year, and encouraged to reapply next year for their exceptional work.

The research conducted by these young investigators specializes in new therapeutic avenues for cancer, and includes new discoveries on how to target cancer-promoting proteins to make them cancer-suppressing, the early detection and treatment of cancer using nanotechnology, and the study of efficacy of and resistance to cancer therapy.

The Pershing Square Sohn Prize, now in its second year, is awarded to scientists based in New York City, a hub for a number of leading academic institutions, research facilities and hospitals. This highly competitive initiative was formed through a $25 million commitment by The Pershing Square Foundation, which partnered with The Sohn Conference Foundation, to help bridge the gap between academia and the business community and to support young scientists at a formative stage in their careers.  In order to facilitate these collaborations, each Prize winner is given a mentor in the pharmaceutical industry and the opportunity to present his or her work to scientific and business audiences.

  • Timothy Chan, MD, Ph.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Dr. Chan’s research focuses on defining the molecular determinants that cause sensitivity and resistance to immune checkpoint blockage therapy in melanoma and lung cancer patients.
  • Arvin Dar, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: Dr. Dar’s research focuses on developing a pharmacological strategy to selectively reduce mutant Ras signaling, thereby improving outcomes for as many as 1 in 4 of melanoma, lung cancer, and prostate cancer patients.
  • Evripidis Gavathiotis, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University: Dr. Gavathiotis’ research focuses on developing insight on apoptosis regulation of cancer cells and discovering innovative pharmacological approaches that may lead to effective therapies for pancreatic cancer patients.
  • Moritz Kircher, MD, Ph.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Dr. Kircher’s research focuses on refining the unique imaging capabilities that detect pancreatic cancer and integrating novel therapeutic weapons into SERRS-nanostars.
  • Christine Mayr, MD, Ph.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Dr. Mayr’s research proposes inhibiting only specific functions in a protein instead of the entire protein in order to open up new avenues for cancer treatment and reverse cancer progression in leukemia and lymphoma patients.
  • Sohail Tavazoie, MD, Ph.D., The Rockefeller University: Dr. Tavazoie’s research focuses on finding a way to identify and then block the tRNA fragments that cause metastatic cancer in melanoma and breast cancer patients.

Finalists Christopher Mason, PhD from Weill Cornell Medical College and Christopher Vakoc, MD, PhD from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratorywere awarded for their work on epigenetic research and potential leukemia therapies, respectively.

Additional details about the Prize winners can be found on the PSSCRA website at

“We are pleased to announce this second cohort of outstanding Pershing Square Sohn Prize winners,” said Bill Ackman, co-founder of The Pershing Square Foundation and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P. “With this prize, we are creating a critical opportunity for young, innovative scientists to realize their dreams and forge a new path to discovery and cures during a time in their career when funding is typically difficult to obtain.  Our goal is to accelerate the potential for cures by backing the best young researchers.”

“Twenty years ago, The Sohn Conference Foundation embarked on a journey to end cancer,” said Evan Sohn, vice president of the Sohn Conference Foundation.  “In the ensuring years, we have made great progress, but what has remained the same is the need to apply the best in class minds to battle cancer’s relentless assault on our families and our friends.  This Prize ensures that our most talented researchers continue in the field and are emboldened to take the risks that will change how we treat and cure cancer.”

“We were deeply impressed throughout the process by all of the applications and believe it says great things about the strength, determination, and spirit of collaboration among New York’s life-sciences researchers and the institutions with whom they’re working,” said Olivia Tournay Flatto, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance. “The caliber of projects submitted this year was so exceptional that we felt compelled to recognize two additional finalists this year, who, like the prizewinners, demonstrated great potential for success.”

As part of the selection process, The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance relied on the guidance of a highly accomplished advisory board that reflects the culture of collaboration the Alliance wanted to implement. Prize Advisory Board members include Jeanne B. Ackman, MD, Director, Thoracic MRI, Radiologist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD, President , Worldwide Research and Development, Pfizer, Inc.; Laurie Glimcher, MD, Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean, Weill Cornell Medical College; Allan Goodman, PhD, President and CEO, The Institute of International Education; Pablo Legorreta, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Royalty Pharma; Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Columbia University Medical Center, Author of “The Emperor of All Maladies”; James E. Rothman, PhD, Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Yale University, 2013 Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology or Medicine; Bruce Stillman, PhD, President and CEO, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Marc Tessier-Lavigne, PhD, President, The Rockefeller University; and Craig Thompson, MD, President and CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

About The Pershing Square Foundation The Pershing Square Foundation is a private family foundation, based in New York, founded in December 2006 by Karen and Bill Ackman. The Foundation has committed more than $300 million in grants and social investments to support exceptional leaders and innovative organizations that tackle important social issues and deliver scalable and sustainable impact. Bill is the CEO and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P. For more information visit:

About The Sohn Conference Foundation The Sohn Conference Foundation is dedicated to supporting innovative initiatives to cure and treat pediatric cancer. Identifying specific areas of need, the Foundation funds groundbreaking research, state-of-the-art technology, and programs to target cures and improve patient care. For more information visit: