Lustgarten Foundation Appoints Two New Board Members 

Posted On Jun 12, 2024

Topic: Announcement, Hide on Homepage, Press Releases
Lustgarten Foundation Appoints Two New Board Members 

Richard Barakat, MD, and Aaron Kantoff join the Lustgarten Foundation Board of Directors  

Woodbury, New York, June 11, 2024 – The Lustgarten Foundation, the largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research in the world, today announced the appointment of two new board members: Richard Barakat, MD, and Aaron Kantoff. Dr. Barakat is a world-renowned surgeon and clinical investigator, who leads cancer services and research at Northwell Health Cancer Institute. Mr. Kantoff is a visionary within the life sciences space, specializing in founding, building, and investing in companies dedicated to therapeutics.   

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Barakat and Mr. Kantoff to the Lustgarten Foundation Board of Directors,” said Linda Tantawi, CEO of the Lustgarten Foundation. “We stand on the precipice of exciting breakthroughs and lifesaving progress in pancreatic cancer research. With the addition of Dr. Barakat and Mr. Kantoff, both pioneers in their respective fields, we are confident that the Lustgarten Foundation will continue to lead the way toward transforming pancreatic cancer into a curable disease.”  

Richard Barakat, MD, is Physician-in-Chief and Executive Director at Northwell Health Cancer Institute. Dr. Barakat was previously Deputy Physician in Chief from 2014-2018 and Chief of Gynecology Service from 2001-2013 at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK). He was the lead investigator on several influential research projects at MSK and co-authored more than 340 peer-reviewed articles and numerous textbook chapters.  

Dr. Barakat served as a member and examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and was vice chair of the Cancer Prevention Committee of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. He received his BA from Queens College, City University of New York, his MD from SUNY Downstate, and an MBA from the Columbia University School of Business. 

“I am honored and excited about this appointment. Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most challenging cancers to diagnose and treat, and I am eager to join this incredible group of individuals dedicated to raising awareness, advancing care, and giving hope to so many,” said Dr. Barakat. “This is a personal privilege for me to help bring Northwell, the Lustgarten Foundation, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and all oncologists closer to our mutual goal: survivorship. Our combined efforts are essential not only to cure pancreatic cancer but to advance the fight against all cancers.”  

Aaron Kantoff is a founder and Managing Partner of Scion Life Sciences, a New York City-based life sciences venture capital firm dedicated to founding and building exceptional biotechnology companies that discover, develop, and seek to commercialize clinically transformational or curative new medicines. Aaron currently serves as a board member of Tourmaline Bio (NASDAQ: TRML), where he has been serving since the company’s inception, and Avalo Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AVTX). Previously, he was a Venture Partner at Medicxi, where he was a founding board member of Centessa Pharmaceuticals PLC (NASDAQ: CNTA). Before joining Medicxi, he was a co-founder and founding board member of RayzeBio (NASDAQ: RYZB), which was recently acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) for $4.1B. 

From 2011 until 2019, Aaron was a Partner at Apple Tree Partners (ATP), a life sciences venture capital firm. At ATP, served on the boards of Akero Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AKRO), Corvidia Therapeutics (acquired by Novo Nordisk) and Syntimmune (acquired by Alexion), and was also involved in Stoke Therapeutics (NASDAQ: STOK) and Chinook Therapeutics (NASDAQ: KDNY). Aaron received a B.S. in Finance and International Business from NYU Stern’s School of Business. 

“I’m absolutely delighted to be actively involved in the Lustgarten Foundation’s mission of funding the world’s leading translational and clinical science for patients with pancreatic cancer,” said Mr. Kantoff. “I am thrilled to be working with Linda, the Lustgarten family and the entire foundation team as we seek to change the trajectory for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the years to come. With an increasing understanding of the underlying biology and a growing number of validated modalities for treatment and diagnosis, I am quite optimistic about the foundation’s mission of finding cures for patients with pancreatic cancer moving forward.”  

Pancreatic cancer represents only 3% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States each year, yet it is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths and is poised to become the second by 2030. And, while the five-year survival rate for all stages combined has reached an unprecedented high of 13% – thanks to Lustgarten’s role as a driving force in every major advancement in pancreatic cancer research – this significantly lags behind all other major cancers. The Lustgarten Foundation continues to pursue what matters most: changing, extending, and saving patients’ lives through our relentless focus on funding the boldest, most innovative studies, guided by our esteemed Board of Directors.  

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