Accelerating the Pace of Discovery from Laboratory to Bedside

We know research creates a more hopeful future for patients. Our groundbreaking research program—the Clinical Accelerator Initiative—ensures the most pioneering research advancements in early detection and new treatments are possible.

The Clinical Accelerator Initiative focuses on:

  • Launching new clinical studies and shortening the time required to move from concept to study launch; and,
  • Developing smarter clinical trials, generating as much data as possible while improving patient outcomes.

There Are More Research Opportunities Than Ever

We established a Translational Advisory Group (TAG) consisting of renowned experts to implement the Clinical Accelerator Initiative. The TAG is identifying the most innovative concepts and potential therapeutic approaches for all stages of pancreatic cancer and accelerating the testing of these new concepts. Led by our Chief Medical Advisor, Elizabeth Jaffee, M.D., of Johns Hopkins, the TAG guides the Clinical Accelerator Initiative by identifying, reviewing and developing the best translational projects to impact patient care in the clinic.

The TAG is building a network of clinical sites to execute proposed research in small trials of 10-20 patients each. These science-driven studies could dramatically inform research, enabling investigators to quickly determine if patients are responding to specific treatment approaches and why. That information will help us continually improve our approach in clinical trials and ultimately, clinical care.

Clinical Acccelerator Initiative scientist preparing DNA test in lab

Targeting Specific Immune Barriers

In early 2021, the Foundation approved $5.1 million to fund three new clinical studies under the Clinical Accelerator Initiative. Two studies at Johns Hopkins build on work from Dr. Jaffee’s team, exploring the use of vaccines to treat pancreatic cancer. Both studies look at novel combinations of vaccines and drugs targeting the immune system to determine if they can overcome pancreatic tumors’ resistance. The two studies build on clinical data generated in ongoing clinical trials at Johns Hopkins and target specific immune barriers identified as part of those studies. One study enrolled metastatic patients, while the others target patients eligible for surgery.

The third study at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigates re-awakening T cells (an immune system cell) able to penetrate the pancreatic tumors but are rendered exhausted and ineffective by signals from the tumor. The clinical study tests a novel combination of drugs designed to simultaneously activate the T cells and block the tumor inhibitory signals.


Members represent the following institutions:

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Duke University
  • Johns Hopkins
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • MD Anderson
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Northwell Health
  • NYU Langone
  • Oregon Health & Science University
  • Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
  • UC San Diego
  • University of Pennsylvania

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