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Funding Drug Discovery

November 21, 2013

More than 140,000 genetic mutations have been linked to cancer, but there are only a few dozen approved targeted therapies. A prominent businessman has taken up the challenge to find new targeted therapies by endowing a research fund in cancer drug discovery.

Ronald James, president and CEO of James Marine, Inc., established the James Family Drug Discovery Research Fund in 2011.

James is a member of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Board of Overseers, and, like many people, has been affected by cancer.

“We are all touched by this terrible disease. Unfortunately I just lost my sister. I see a lot of cancer, and it’s hard to get over it,” James said. “Anything I can do for my family and grandchildren and generations to come, I will do. My ultimate hope is to find a cure.”

This endowed fund will provide continuous support for cancer drug discovery and will benefit both adult research, like Stephen Fesik’s Ras research, and pediatric research, like the work of Patrick Grohar, M.D., Ph.D.

Grohar is researching new drugs that target the genetic factors behind Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that forms in bone.

“Everything I’ve seen at Vanderbilt is state of the art, and that excites me. At the board meetings, we hear about what the scientists and doctors are developing or curing, and I want that work to continue,” James said.

– by Leslie Hill