Cancer Research Institute Media Room




Cancer Research Institute and Chordoma Foundation Partner to Advance Immunotherapy Research in Rare Cancer

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) and Chordoma Foundation announced today that they have established a research partnership to advance treatment options for chordoma, an ultra-rare cancer in the sarcoma family that occurs in the bones of the skull base and spine. Through this partnership, the two organizations will identify and fund promising chordoma research based in the field of tumor immunology, also known as immuno-oncology, an area CRI has focused its efforts in for more than 65 years and which has resulted in significant improvement in the treatment of patients with certain types of cancer, including lung, melanoma, leukemia and lymphoma, and others.

“Immunotherapy may ultimately be an effective treatment for all types of cancer, but rare cancers are often under-prioritized due to their low incidence,” said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs at CRI. “Our partnership with the Chordoma Foundation is an opportunity to fund research that has the potential to bring the benefits of immunotherapy to patients with this ultra-rare type of cancer.” 

Chordomas are generally treated with surgery, often combined with radiation therapy, which can be curative in some patients. However, even after this initial treatment, many chordomas tend to regrow or spread. Currently, there are no systemic therapies approved for the treatment of chordoma, creating a significant unmet need for effective drug treatments, especially for recurrent or metastatic disease.

Immunotherapeutic approaches are being explored, but further advancement is dependent on a better understanding of chordoma’s biology and its interaction with the immune system.

Josh Sommer, executive director of the Chordoma Foundation said, “There is a growing body of evidence that the immune system has a role to play in the treatment of chordoma, and promising anecdotal responses to immunotherapies are underscoring the need for more research in this area. We are thrilled to partner with the Cancer Research Institute to bring the latest advances in cancer immunotherapy to chordoma and enable chordoma patients to benefit from these powerful emerging treatments.”

CRI and the Chordoma Foundation will establish a joint fund to support chordoma-focused immunology grants awarded under CRI’s Clinic and Laboratory Integration Program (CLIP). CLIP grants provide catalytic support for translational laboratory studies designed to answer new specific scientific questions that arise in the clinic, with special focus on improving immunotherapy for cancer patients. Letters of Intent for CLIP grants are due to CRI November 1, 2019.

Media Contacts:

For Cancer Research Institute:
Brian Brewer, +212.688.7515 x242, [email protected]

For Chordoma Foundation:
Jennifer Roeder, +919.809.6779, x116, [email protected]

Grant Application Inquiries:

Lynne A. Harmer, +212.688.7515 x226, [email protected] 

About Chordoma

Chordoma is a rare and difficult to treat cancer that grows in the bones of the skull and spine and affects people of all ages. It is diagnosed in just 1 in 1 million people per year and is part of a group of malignant bone and soft tissue tumors called sarcomas. Chordomas account for about 3 percent of all bone tumors and about 20 percent of primary spinal tumors. They are the most common tumor of the sacrum and cervical spine. More than half of all chordoma tumors come back, or recur, after treatment. 

About the Cancer Research Institute

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is the world’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to saving more lives by fueling the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all types of cancer. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes four Nobel laureates and 24 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested more than $400 million in support of research conducted by immunologists and tumor immunologists at the world’s leading medical centers and universities, and has contributed to many of the key scientific advances that demonstrate the potential for immunotherapy to change the face of cancer treatment. To learn more, go to

About the Chordoma Foundation

The Chordoma Foundation is a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of the worldwide chordoma community, and partners with healthcare providers, scientists, and companies to improve the lives of those affected by chordoma and lead the search for a cure. The Foundation envisions a future in which everyone affected by chordoma is able to overcome the disease and maintain their quality of life. To achieve this vision, it invests in three core goals: better treatments, better care, and a better experience for everyone touched by chordoma. Since 2007, the Foundation has served thousands of chordoma patients around the world and dramatically accelerated the search for new therapies. For more information, go to

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