Cancer Research Institute Media Room



Cancer Research Institute Awards Over $28 Million in Grants to Fuel Immunotherapy Innovations


NEW YORK, JULY 19, 2023

As the leading nonprofit organization committed to revolutionizing cancer treatment by leveraging our immune system’s potential since our founding 70 years ago, the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) provides financial support for both laboratory and clinical research in the fields of immunology and tumor immunology, the latter of which CRI’s visionary backing has played a crucial role in pioneering and nurturing.

These endeavors continue to deepen our comprehension of the relationship between cancer and the immune system, leading to advancements in cancer therapy and opening new avenues for further research in the field.

CRI, both our scientists and our programs, celebrated notable achievements this past fiscal year. Many reflect the growing importance of technology in both cancer immunology research and cancer immunotherapy treatments. CRI empowers scientists utilizing cutting-edge tools like CRISPR, artificial intelligence, bacterial ‘trojan horses’ and more. CRI’s hope is to push the boundaries of what’s possible to help improve how care is administered currently and design better immunotherapies for the future.

This progress will require technology to unravel the complexity of the tumor-immune microenvironment and the larger cancer ecosystem. We hope to shed light on the mechanisms that explain why some patients respond to immunotherapy better than others.

The Cancer Research Institute awarded $28.7 million in research grants and fellowships in the 2023 fiscal year ending June 30, 2023. In total, CRI distributed 73 awards that will advance cancer immunology research at 41 institutions in 10 countries. CRI grants were awarded to support projects involving a variety of immune-based approaches as well as the development of novel technologies that may help pave the way for the next generation of immunotherapies:

  • 30 new CRI Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowships, including three awardees of our Postdoctoral Fellowship to Promote Racial Diversity, supporting the training and research of young scientists improving our understanding of fundamental cancer and immune biology. Among the many research avenues they’re investigating are nature-inspired immune cell engineering strategies, the nervous system’s ability to influence tumor immunity and metastasis, methods to harness beneficial viruses for cancer immunotherapy. Additionally, they’re investigating how a wide variety of factors—from dietary habits to cigarette smoke to age—affect our immune system and ant-cancer protection.
  • 6 inaugural Immuno-Informatics Fellows focusing on deciphering the patterns of immune architecture within breast cancer tumors, understanding how aging affects T cell dysfunction and immunotherapy’s effectiveness, developing a single-cell platform to define the global factors regulating immune cell states, and learning the nuances of the IFNγ, a central node in human immunity.
  • 12 new Clinic and Laboratory Integration (CLIP) Grants funding efforts to target platelets to improve immunotherapy, generate personalized T cell therapies, map the cellular landscape of chordoma, define the factors of immunotherapy response and resistance in gastroesophageal cancer, develop B cell therapies for brain tumors, and modulate the gut bacteria to improve immunotherapy for multiple myeloma.
  • 4 new Technology Impact Awards to explore targeting cancer metabolism via the Warburg effect, improving vaccine design by leveraging computational modelling, improving researchers’ ability to analyze and extract valuable information from preserved tissue, and developing a new discovery platform to identify promising innate immune targets.
  • 5 new Lloyd J. Old STAR Awards (Scientists TAking Risks) of $1.25 million over five years to outstanding tenure-track scientists conducting high-risk, high-reward cancer immunology research with the potential to produce transformative leaps forward in tumor immunology. The latest cohort of STARs is exploring the importance of stem-like T cells in cancer immunity, novel ways of reprogramming tumor-targeting T cells, the impact of DNA repair gene mutations, next generation genome engineering strategies, and CAR T cell therapy approaches for solid cancers.
  • 3 inaugural Clinical Innovators pursuing promising strategies in the clinic that include a novel cytokine-targeting immunotherapy to treat lung cancer prior to surgery, targeting glutamine metabolism to treat a rare form of liver cancer, and the use of cutting-edge “synNotch” CAR T cells for patients with recurrent glioblastoma.
  • The CRI-Anna-Maria Kellen Clinical Accelerator’s expansion of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) trial is moving forward into phase 2 study after promising initial results indicated that molecular response based on ctDNA levels can be used as a prognostic marker on which clinical decisions can be based, potentially changing medical practice in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

CRI launched a groundbreaking Clinical Innovator Program after recognizing the need to empower physicians seeking to bring novel cancer immunotherapies into the clinic, especially in areas with a high unmet need. By seeking mechanistic insights into clinical response and striving to discover predictive biomarkers, these investigator-initiated studies have the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment.

To ensure the maximum impact of each clinical trial, our organization collaborates closely with researchers, offering expert advice and assistance in optimizing trial design and translational studies. This coordinated effort amplifies the potential for groundbreaking discoveries that can shape the future of cancer care.

Through our steadfast dedication to fundamental research on the immune system, CRI continues to advance our understanding of cancer’s tricks and vulnerabilities, as well as pursue initiatives with the potential to improve patient outcomes through therapeutic interventions grounded in immunological principles. Moreover, these efforts also drive progress in overcoming not only cancer but also autoimmune, inflammatory, and infectious diseases.

To learn more about CRI’s programs visit:

Media Contact: Dustin Etheridge, [email protected]

About the Cancer Research Institute

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is the preeminent U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to saving more lives by fueling the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all cancers. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes four Nobel laureates and 33 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested over $517 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

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