The AXA Research Fund is awarding 2 million euros to support an
Endowed Chair in Molecular Oncology at the CNIO. The recipient of this
Chair will be Dr. Mariano Barbacid, world-renowned molecular oncologist,
who is focusing on the development of novel therapies against lung and
pancreas cancer, two of the tumors with the lowest survival rates.
4 May 2012, Madrid - The AXA Research Fund, a global initiative of scientific
philanthropy supported by the worldwide insurance Group AXA, is awarding 2
million euros to the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) to create
a permanent Chair in Molecular Oncology, to be held by Dr. Mariano Barbacid.
This Chair AXA-CNIO is the fifth Chair in the world created by AXA Research
Fund in Life Sciences.
"This type of chairs is something completely new in Spain, which makes the
philanthropic contribution made by AXA even more relevant " says Dr. Barbacid,
who explains that "the first thing we are going to do with the resources
generated by this endowment will be to establish a platform for clinical mouse
trials using genetically engineered models that reproduces faithfully human lung
For Javier de Agustín, CEO of AXA Spain, and sponsor of this Chair: “the AXA
Research Fund support to Spanish research in these years shows the high level
of excellence of Spanish Scientists. I’m also honored to become the sponsor of
this chair and I look forward to a fruitful intellectual relationship with Dr.
Barbacid: Cancer is a crucial threat to human life for an insurer and we are
proud both to support a better understanding of this disease and to mutually
nurture our expertise on this issue. We hope this may help to prevent it better.”
The philanthropic contribution of the AXA Research Fund supporting this
Permanent Endowed Chair ensures the economic viability of the research over
time due to the continued flow of resources derived from the interest generated
by the 2 million euros endowment.
For Prof. María Blasco, Director of the CNIO since June 2011, "The CNIO
needs now more than ever the generosity of such philanthropic initiative to be
among the best research centers in the world in the fight against cancer. And I
feel very proud and very grateful that AXA Research Fund so generously
helped us take steps in that direction.”
Dr Barbacid´s research group is proposing to use a new generation of
genetically modified animal tumors models that faithfully reproduce the
development of human cancers to validate novel therapeutic strategies using
both genetic approaches and pharmacological approaches. Specifically, Dr.
Barbacid and colleagues will focus their studies on K-Ras oncogene-driven lung
and pancreatic adenocarcinomas, two tumors types with some of the worst
prognosis and survival. Indeed, despite the efforts dedicated over the last three
decades, there are no selective drugs against these cancers yet.
Dr. Barbacid is one of the key contributors to the elucidation of the molecular
mechanisms of cancer. In the spring of 1982, while at the National Cancer
Institute in the USA, he led one of three laboratories that independently
discovered the first human cancer-causing gene (oncogene), H-Ras. This
discovery opened up a new field in cancer biology and provided the first
experimental evidence to establish the molecular bases of human cancer. In the
same year, Dr. Barbacid also discovered that cancer was a genetic disease,
that is to say a disease caused by mutations in our own genes.
His strategy is based on the successful use of multi-drug therapies to fight the
AIDS virus. Yet, Dr. Barbacid warns that “lung cancer is much a more complex
disease than AIDS. […] We expect the first results in 12 or 18 months."
Spain, an important place for world-class research acknowledged by the
AXA Research Fund
Others researchers supported on a worldwide academic competition basis by
the AXA Research Fund in Spain include: Prof Albert Marcet, AXA Chair on
Macroeconomic Risk (Permanent chair 2009, Barcelona GSE); Prof Joan
Esteban, AXA Project on Social Conflicts (Project 2008, U. Autónoma de
Barcelona); Fabian Rinnen, Forecasting Risk: Realized Quantile Approach
(PhD 2010, U. Carlos III de Madrid); Anatoli Segura, Roll-over Risk and debt
maturity (PhD 2010, CEMFI).
Taking into account seven Spanish researchers supported abroad, the
philanthropic support of the AXA Research Fund to Spanish research accounts
for € 3.6 million.
The National Research Centre on Oncology (CNIO) was created by the Instituto
de Salud Carlos III in 1998. Its mission is to develop excellent research and
provide innovative technologies in the field of oncology at the Sistema Nacional