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How the Prostate Cancer Foundation Changed the Culture of Prostate Cancer Research

Before PCF, outlook for patients was bleak

Less than 30 years ago, the total amount funding into prostate cancer research was less than $30 million a year. “So, in 1991, if you were diagnosed with metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer, the median or average survival was six months,” says Kenneth Pienta, M.D. and professor of Urology and Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “That remained true until PCF came along.”

In 2018, PCF celebrated its 25th year changing the culture of prostate cancer research. Before it was created, advancements in prostate cancer treatments were slow to arrive to the market. In its 25 years of existence, PCF has raised more than $700 million dollars and helped lower the mortality rate of prostate cancer by 50%. “The Prostate Cancer Foundation is truly unique,” added Suzanne Conzen, M.D. a PCF-funded researcher and a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “I think it stirs things up and it’s been incredibly successful because of that.”

But, how has PCF done this. It started with the founding principles: identify the most promising research not being funded by the NCI, recruit the best scientists and physicians to energize the prostate cancer field, shorten the grant applications, make decisions and provide funding on those applications within 90 days AND require awardees to share their results with others (you can read history HERE).

“PCF has created an ecosystem for not only understanding how prostate cancer happens. And that ecosystem is accomplished by not only changing how the political landscape of how prostate cancer research is funded, but building teams and mechanisms to get those teams to work together,” added Pienta.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation has always sought out the best science to help treat prostate cancer, but unlike other organizations working to treat and cure cancer, PCF invests in people. And those people combined with new, cutting-edge research has built a community of the best scientists that has gotten survival out past five years.