The Prostate Cancer Foundation announced on December 31 the recipients of $11 million in funding for prostate cancer research. The grants are part of the PCF Challenge Awards, which fund innovative research projects with the greatest potential of generating new and improved treatments for advanced prostate cancer. This is a topic Robert F. Smith is passionate about, and he has taken action to make a difference.
Smith — Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners — announced last summer that he will partner with the Prostate Cancer Foundation to support research to create an early detection test that will estimate lifetime prostate cancer risk to better identify those who need early screenings and treatment. The test — named the Smith Polygenic Risk Test — uses a combination of more than 250 genetic variants obtained from a single sample of saliva or blood, making testing easier and more widely available. In honor of Smith’s support, the 2020 award for the project was named after him.
The project is part of a larger initiative to reduce the incidences and deaths from prostate cancer in Black men, which is crucial considering the disproportionate impact the disease has on them. Black men are 75% more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men, and more than twice as likely to die from the disease compared to men of other ethnicities, according to data from the American Cancer Society.
Additional awards went to projects producing important work, such as creating an international registry of data from patients given the same treatment to study resistance effects, investigating the use of biomarkers to reveal pathways by which prostate cancer metastasizes and testing the efficacy of an inhibitor and preventing prostate cancer progression in patients who recently tested positive for COVID-19.