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Lustgarten Mourns the Loss of RBG

Supreme Court Announces Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg from Pancreatic Cancer

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Woodbury, N.Y. Sept. 18, 2020–“Today, the world joins together to mourn the loss of associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruther Bader Ginsburg and sends condolences to her family and friends,” said Kerri Kaplan, President and CEO of the Lustgarten Foundation. “While we are saddened by this devastating loss, we must uphold the legacy that she left behind both on the bench and as a pancreatic cancer survivor.”

Justice Ginsburg’s long-standing career began in 1980 when she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a position she retained until her appointment to the Supreme Court. During her illustrious career, she was an ardent supporter of gender equality and women’s rights and an inspiration to the cancer community as she faced her own cancer diagnoses

In 1999, Justice Ginsburg was diagnosed with colon cancer. Determined to remain on the bench during her diagnosis, she underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation. A decade later, she faced another difficult diagnosis: pancreatic cancer. Fortunately, the disease was caught early, which is often not the case with pancreatic cancer, and Justice Ginsburg was able to continue on with her duties.

“In recent years, as her health deteriorated, she was seen as a pillar of strength and perseverance in the cancer community,” Kaplan said. “She will be remembered fondly not only for her imprints on the American judicial system, but as one of the great trailblazers of her time.”

As the fourth-oldest Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ginsburg will be remembered as a woman of integrity who fought for gender equality and made significant legal advances for women. In 1954, she earned her B.A. in government at Cornell University and earned her law degree from Columbia Law School in 1959. During her undergraduate years, she met her husband Martin Ginsburg, whom she married shortly after graduation. The couple was married for 56 years before Martin passed away from complications from metastatic cancer.

Justice Ginsburg died from metastatic pancreatic cancer. Just as “RBG” was committed to justice, the Lustgarten Foundation is committed to finding earlier detection methods, better, more effective treatment options and, ultimately, a cure for pancreatic cancer. To make a donation in memory of Justice Ginsburg’s life and legacy, visit our website at 100 percent of every donation will go toward pancreatic cancer research.

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Dr. Robert F. Vizza

When Dr. Robert F. Vizza started as the Lustgarten Foundation’s first President and CEO, pancreatic cancer was known as an “orphan disease”—a rare but deadly disease with little research into prevention, detection, treatment or an eventual cure. However, through Dr. Vizza’s steadfast leadership, service and dedication, the Lustgarten Foundation has directed nearly $200 million dollars into pancreatic cancer research, forever changing the orphan status and providing hope for thousands of patients, survivors and their families. Over the past 22 years, Bob has pushed relentlessly to move the science to the clinic. Therefore as part of our Gala, we are naming the Dr. Robert F. Vizza Lustgarten Clinical Accelerator Initiative in Bob’s honor. Funding for the Clinical Accelerator Initiative will allow us to initiate new clinical studies in a way that shortens the time required to move from concept to study launch and to develop smarter clinical trials that improve patient outcomes. Thank you for recognizing Dr. Vizza’s work and for your continued commitment to putting an end to pancreatic cancer.

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Lives Through Early Detection

No one is ever fully prepared to face a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, but in Scott Nelson’s case, the prognosis was devastating; the size and location of his tumor made it inoperable. Feelings of shock, disbelief and anger flooded this loving father’s mind as he thought about his three daughters—and their eventual life without him. But another feeling arose within Scott: determination. He sought a second opinion and joined a clinical trial using a combination of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation. The combined treatment worked to shrink Scott’s tumor so he could then undergo life-saving surgery. Scott has now been disease-free for 15 years, grateful for the countless memories and milestones he’s experienced with his family and committed to advocating for other patients and supporting early detection research.

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Identifying Patients With Pancreatic Cancer Likely to Respond

The presence of either germline or somatic mutations that encode proteins involved in a form of DNA repair known as homologous recombination (HR) identifies patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who are going to respond best to first-line (1L) platinum therapy, new research shows. From 5% to 9% of patients with pancreatic cancer harbor germline or somatic mutations in the core HR genes (BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2).

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New Funding Opportunity

The intent of this program is to support pancreatic cancer research critical to advancing our understanding of pancreatic cancer initiation, progression and the development of new therapies in four areas of focus: Desmoplastic Stroma, Chronic Inflammation, Metabolic Dysregulation,Early Metastasis Candidates must be nominated by their institution prior to submission (limit one nomination per institution), and submit a 2 page Letter of Intent (LOI) by June 30. The LOI must include a letter of support from the institute director, detailing the rationale for the nomination and qualifications of the investigator. Despite considerable advances in our understanding of pancreatic cancer initiation and progression, development of new therapies and significant changes to treatment and outcomes lag behind. Improved understanding of the biology underlying pancreatic cancer should lead to the identification of new dependencies that are therapeutically tractable.

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“We had to
be strong, we had
to fight.”

Lauren La Femina knows one thing for certain: When pancreatic cancer strikes anyone in the family, nothing is ever the same. And when that person is your mother, the world can feel as if it has suddenly collapsed around you. Lauren was just 26 and thriving in her career when she learned her mother, Lucille, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “I was blindsided and utterly devastated, and my mother wanted to give up the fight even before she started,” shared Lauren, recalling the pain of the moment. “You automatically think the worst—but I knew we had to stop crying, we had to be strong, we had to fight.” Logistics, treatment, depression, nutrition, pain management—Lauren managed it all, drawing strength and resilience from her mother and the support of a group of committed family members and friends. Lucille bravely faced a complex Whipple surgery and 10 rounds of chemotherapy, and Lauren—her fiercest champion and tireless advocate—never left her mom’s side. Today, Lucille’s scans show she is cancer-free. Lucille’s experience with pancreatic cancer has made Lauren an ardent supporter of the Lustgarten Foundation, participating in the Foundation’s walk program and raising thousands of dollars to advance innovative pancreatic cancer research. “More needs to be done to figure out how to prevent the disease and how to cure more patients,” said Lauren. “The Lustgarten Foundation is leading the charge and that means everything to patients and caregivers who have the toughest job of all—getting through a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.” In recognition of Mother’s Day, and in honor of Lucille, Lauren and all of the women touched by pancreatic cancer, please donate to help the Lustgarten Foundation fund the world’s most transformative research. With your support, promising breakthroughs are within reach. 100 percent of your donation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research, thanks to separate funding to support administrative expenses.

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Join us now through Tuesday, May 5, when nonprofits around the world come together for #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity in response to COVID-19. Here at the Lustgarten Foundation, we are as committed as ever to protecting and servicing pancreatic cancer patients—a group that is especially vulnerable to COVID-19. In honor of #GivingTuesdayNow, please support our relentless researchers who are working as tirelessly as ever to find novel treatments and pursue new methods for early detection, even in the midst of this broader healthcare emergency. Your contribution—no matter the size—will help ensure our research continues at an accelerated pace, enabling pancreatic cancer patients to participate in clinical trials, benefit from new therapies and one day have access to a cure. Many employers will also match employees’ charitable contributions. Please contact your human resources and/or payroll department for specific information about your company’s policies. Please also consider joining Partners in Progress, a dedicated group of supporters who generously choose to make a monthly gift to the Lustgarten Foundation. You can give with confidence, as 100 percent of all donations go directly to pancreatic cancer research.

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HOPE From Home

Pancreatic cancer can’t wait—and neither can we. It’s safe to assume the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on everyone. Almost overnight, we’ve all had to make dramatic transitions to cope with this new reality and to protect ourselves and our communities. Added to that are the very real concerns about the impact COVID-19 will have on those battling pancreatic cancer. We’ve heard from many of you who want to remain engaged with and to help the pancreatic cancer community, so we’ve launched a new opportunity for you to provide the entire Lustgarten family with a little bit of HOPE “HOPE From Home” is designed to provide you, our valued supporters, a variety of opportunities to support our mission even while social distancing at home. Your participation can help us raise critical funds for pancreatic cancer research and awareness about this dreaded disease. You can show your neighborhood, community and on-line network that pancreatic cancer can’t wait—and neither can we.

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Our Response to COVID-19

How Lustgarten is Responding to COVID-19

A letter from the CEO

Hi and thank you for checking in with the Lustgarten Foundation to learn more about our response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Seemingly overnight, COVID-19 has dramatically changed the world in which we live. I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are well.

We at the Lustgarten Foundation are doing our best to follow the CDC guidelines, practice social distancing and to help flatten the curve. As of Tuesday, March 17, all staff are working remotely, but we are staying in touch with one another and continue to be here for you. Though images from major cities and small towns across the country almost make it feel that life has stopped, we know the fight against pancreatic cancer cannot wait.

For now, we have postponed or cancelled all events through the end of May—if you were already registered for one of these events, you should have received an email with everything you need to know. If you missed the email or are just now considering registering for an event, we’ve posted all the details below. Of course, if you have questions about pancreatic cancer, fundraising, walks or anything else, please get in touch. Call us tollfree at 866-789-1000 or send an email to We check the messages daily and one of us will get back to you as soon as possible.

To keep up with the latest pancreatic cancer research information and Lustgarten Foundation activities, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

We know this is a difficult and uncertain time, and we also know we will get through this together. Please follow the recommendations of your healthcare provider and practice social distancing as much as possible (but remember, Skype and FaceTime are great options to keep you connected with friends and family) and stay healthy and safe.



Kerri Kaplan,
President and CEO

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Find a Clinical Trial

Clinical trials hold the promise of discovering new treatments and will bring us even closer to a cure. In fact, today patients are living longer from successful pancreatic cancer treatments, as a direct result of past clinical trials. If you have pancreatic cancer, a clinical trial may be your best option. Speak with your doctor to find out if a clinical trial might be right for you. Our Lustgarten and Let’s Win Clinical Trial Matching Service provides free and unlimited access to current, verified clinical trial information through our partner, Emerging Med. Patients and their loved ones can call 1-800-535-1867 Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.ET to speak with a Clinical Trial Navigator.

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Pancreatic Cancer News

Cancer Projects to Diversify Genetic Research Receive New Grants

11. 9. 20 ladmin
The New York Genome Center awarded six cancer research grants this week as part of an initiative examining the role of race and ethnicity in major types of cancer. The projects will investigate a variety of cancers including pancreatic, colorectal and endometrial cancer in African-Americans; lung cancer in Asian-American patients; breast and prostate cancer in […]

UH researcher discovers susceptibility genes for pancreatic cancer

10. 9. 20 ladmin
Six novel susceptibility genes for pancreatic cancer risk have been identified by University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researcher Lang Wu. The study was published in Cancer Research by the American Association for Cancer Research. “Our discovery of novel candidate susceptibility genes associated with pancreatic cancer will allow us to better understand the biology and genetics of this deadly malignancy, and help us […]

Sortilin may hold the key to combat pancreatic cancer more effectively

20. 8. 20 ladmin
Pancreatic cancer has an extremely poor prognosis; it is the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. In a novel study published in The American Journal of Pathology, published by Elsevier, scientists report the discovery of an increased level of the neuroprotein sortilin in pancreatic cancer cells that may open up […]

Diabetes increases risk for pancreatic cancer, study finds

13. 8. 20 ladmin
Older adults with diabetes are nearly three times as likely to develop pancreatic cancer than the general population, according to an analysis published Thursday by JAMA Oncology. The link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer increases to seven-fold for people with the relatively rare Type 3C diabetes, which is caused by pancreatic conditions, the researchers said. The […]

Study Focuses on a Different Kind of Liquid Biopsy to Detect Cancer

13. 8. 20 ladmin
Collaborators from MSK and Weill Cornell Medicine report that tiny packages of materials released into the blood, called EVPs, may enable detection of a number of different types of cancer in the early stages. Because cancer is easier to successfully treat when it’s caught early, a major goal in cancer research is to develop new […]

COMBAT study preliminary results show response of 32% in treatment of pancreatic tumors

11. 8. 20 ladmin
Working with an international team of researchers, HonorHealth Research Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, were instrumental in one of the first clinical trials showing how pancreatic cancer patients can benefit from immunotherapy, according to a four-year study published in a premier scientific journal, Nature Medicine. The […]

The first mouse model of human pancreas cancer subtypes

23. 7. 20 ladmin
Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have created the first mouse model of pancreatic cancer that recreates two subtypes of the human disease. The model, published July 23, 2020 in Cancer Discovery, will help researchers investigate why some pancreatic cancers are more aggressive than others and what causes them to progress, paving the way to […]

Study suggests new potential strategy to fight against pancreatic cancer

6. 7. 20 ladmin
A University of Michigan-led study is shedding new light on the way pancreatic cancer cells turn nearby connective tissue cells into co-conspirators in their deadly growth. The findings, which appear in Nature Metabolism, also suggest a new potential strategy against pancreatic cancer by identifying critical components of metabolic cross talk between cells that might be attacked […]

Ipsen scores FDA fast-track for Onivyde in first-line pancreatic cancer

19. 6. 20 ladmin
The FDA designation will review the use of Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan) in combination with 5- fluorouracil/leucovorin (5-FU/LV) and oxaliplatin (OX), also known as Nalirifox, in patients with previously untreated, unresectable, locally advanced and metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The fast-track programme aids the development and also expedites the review of drugs that are designed to treat serious […]

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