Ludwig Cancer Research awarded $540 million in funding to Ludwig Centers at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, MIT, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Stanford, and the University of Chicago.

“Never before has the cancer community had the knowledge and tools to probe so deeply into understanding cancer and discovering new ways to defeat it,” said Ed McDermott, Ludwig trustee and president and CEO of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. “More must be done in terms of funding to ensure continued progress in an era of shrinking global resources for research. Providing reliable, long-term support to scientists fosters high-impact, innovative research and must remain a priority for the cancer community.”

Initial funding to the six U.S.-based Ludwig Centers has already yielded groundbreaking discoveries, according to McDermott. It has paved the way for the first comprehensive maps of the genomic landscapes of cancers, transformative “smart drugs” and immunotherapy treatments, and fast-tracked research to bring new treatments for various types of metastatic and rare cancers, he added.

“The additional funding received today will allow the Ludwig Centers to expand and amplify their efforts in perpetuity. Sustained support enables the centers to continue training the best and the brightest of the next generation of scientists,” said Bert Vogelstein, MD, co-director, Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins. “Ludwig puts great faith in its scientists by providing ongoing investment that allows them to expedite research and take risks.”

This gift complements the late American businessman Daniel K. Ludwig’s global plan for financing cancer research, according to a spokesperson for Ludwig Cancer Research, which is comprised of an international network of scientists. His first contribution to cancer research was made in 1971 when he established the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

“With independent, flexible, and long-range funding we can now take an idea based on the best scientific and medical insights, and pursue it further regardless of how long it may take or the size of the eventual patient population it may benefit,” said George D. Demetri, M.D., co-director, Ludwig Center at Harvard. “We also have the freedom to collaborate with leading scientists around the globe, which can lead to new innovations to help cancer patients.”

Ludwig, whom biographer Jerry Shields labeled the “Invisible Billionaire,” died in 1992 at the age of 95. He made his fortune in ship ownership and real estate.

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