The MMRF Prevention Project

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) today announced that Ronald O. Perelman and Dr. Anna Chapman, through the Perelman Family Foundation, have committed more than $4 million in funding to launch the first ever research program solely dedicated to the early detection and prevention of Multiple Myeloma. This generous donation will seed the launch of the groundbreaking Perelman Family Foundation Early Disease Translational Research Program, part of the MMRF Prevention Project, to speed efforts toward early detection, delayed disease progression, and eventually, ultimately, prevention of this incurable disease.

“The goal of this initiative is to develop a completely new paradigm for research in to Multiple Myeloma, focusing on early detection and ultimately, prevention. Right now, detection of this terrible disease often comes too late. Unlike most cancers, early detection of Multiple Myeloma doesn’t increase a person’s chance of survival under current treatment options. The Perelman Family Foundation Early Disease Translational Research Program will support research focused on improving outcomes after early detection. With the MMRF and our university partners, we are confident that we will be able to make breakthroughs for multiple myeloma patients, and that the program will serve as a model for future initiatives,” said Dr. Anna Chapman.

Project Goals

  • Better understanding of genomic determinants of early disease progression
  • Impact of microenvironmental factors on early disease progression
  • Enhancing tumor immunity in MGUS/SMM

PIs & Sites

  • Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    • Dr. Irene Ghobrial, PI
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
    • Dr. Ola Landgren, PI
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center
    • Dr. Robert Orlowski, PI
    • Dr. Elizabet Manasanch, PI
  • Rockefeller University
    • Dr. Kivanc Birsoy, PI
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Science
    • Dr. Gareth Morgan, PI
  • Emory University
    • Dr. Madhav Dhodapkar, PI

About the Perelman Family Foundation

Inspired by the dedication and vision of its Chairman and CEO Ronald O. Perelman and his family, the Perelman Family Foundation is firmly committed to philanthropy, focusing on women’s health, education and the arts. Ranked among the top philanthropists in the United States, Mr. Perelman is the founder of the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program, which analyzes the causes of and develops groundbreaking treatment for breast and ovarian cancer. Launched in 1994, the program was responsible for the development of Herceptin, the first genetically-based treatment for a major cancer to be approved by the FDA, which currently cures more than thirty percent of breast cancer cases in women. In 2014, he co-founded, along with Barbra Streisand, the Women’s Heart Alliance to raise awareness, encourage action and drive new research to fight heart disease in women.

Through the Perelman Family Foundation, Mr. Perelman supports the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Services and the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center; the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York Presbyterian Hospital, an internationally-recognized center offering comprehensive, innovative, and world-class cardiovascular care and heart health education; and the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.


The gift from the Perelman Family Foundation provides a catalyst for essential research focused on: better understanding genomic determinants of early disease progression; how microenvironment factors influence early disease progression; and enhancing patient tumor immunity.

Perelman Family Foundation Early Disease Translational Research Program brings together six leading cancer research centers: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, University of Arkansas for Medical Science, Emory University, as well as the MMRF. The studies conducted by these teams will identify novel targets and biomarkers of disease progression and enable the development of therapeutic approaches to delay or even stop progression to myeloma.

Data Bank: Better understanding of genomic and immune determinants of early disease progression

MSKCC Team (Landgren)
Dr. Landgren is Professor of Medicine and Chief Attending Physician of the Myeloma Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, NY. Dr. Landgren is one of the world leaders in the field of early treatment strategies and molecular- and cell-based monitoring of minimal residual disease (MRD) detection in multiple myeloma and its precursor states. He leads a translational research program at MSKCC designed to discover new treatment paradigms integrating modern therapy and novel MRD assays. Dr. Landgren has designed and led the definitive study showing that all multiple myeloma patients are preceded by a precursor stage. As part of his ongoing research program, he is studying molecular mechanisms underlying the trajectory from precursor to full-blown multiple myeloma with the goal to develop of treatment strategies aiming to delay, prevent, and ultimately define a cure for multiple myeloma.Dr. Landgren has published over 250 peer-reviewed publications and he is a frequently invited speaker at national and international hematology conferences. He serves on several research committees and editorial boards for scientific journals.
Irene M. Ghobrial, MD
Attending Physician, Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
​Director, Clinical Investigator Research Program, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Director, Michele & Stephen Kirsch Laboratory
Dr. Ghobrial is an is a physician scientist who specializes in the field of Multiple Myeloma.(MM)She focuses particularly on the role of the malignant bone marrow niche in disease progression from early precursor conditions like MGUS/smoldering MM to overt MM. She uses MM as a model of bone metastasis and dissemination. Her laboratory research data has been rapidly translated to innovative investigator-initiated clinical trials. They have conducted over 10 phase I and II clinical trials. Their studies on MM cell trafficking have been translated to the first chemosensitization trials in patients with Multiple Myeloma.Dr. Ghobrial is the co-leader of the first consortium of clinical trials for blood cancers in collaboration with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to form the Blood Cancer Research Partnership (BCRP), a consortium for innovative clinical trials of community oncology sites coordinated by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.Moreover, she initiated the Center for Prevention of Progression of Blood Cancers (CPOP) where patients with precursor conditions such as MGUS, early Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and early Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) will be monitored prospectively for clonal evolution during disease progression. The PCROWD study, a tissue bank study collecting samples from patients with precursor conditions, is also part of this effort. Clinical trials and research efforts are being coordinated for patients with these conditions to develop therapeutic agents that can prevent/delay disease progression in these early malignant conditions.

Learning Network: Impact of microenvironmental factors on early disease progression

Emory Team (Dr. Madhav Dhodapkar)
Madhav V. Dhodapkar, MBBS, is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Dhodapkar serves as director of the Winship Center for Cancer Immunology.Prior to joining Emory, he served as Chief of Hematology, the Arthur H. and Isabel Bunker Professor of Medicine (Hematology), and Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine. An expert in the treatment of multiple myeloma, he also was co-director of the Cancer Immunology Program within the Yale Cancer Center. Other faculty appointments include Myeloma Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York, and The Rockefeller University in New York, New York.A board certified hematologist and medical oncologist, Dr. Dhodapkar specializes in the treatment of multiple myeloma and other hematological malignancies. He will begin to see patients at Winship Cancer Institute in April/May 2018. His primary clinical and scholarly focus is the immuno-biology of myeloma and the development of novel biological approaches to treat cancer.
Gareth Morgan, M.D. FRCP, FRCPath, Ph.D Professor of Hematology, is the Director of the Myeloma Institute and Deputy Director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
Dr. Morgan is an internationally recognized clinician scientist with expertise in the field of molecular genetics and treatment of multiple myeloma. He has authored more than 450 articles in high-impact peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Morgan came to the Myeloma Institute in 2014 from The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research in London where he was the Director of the Centre for Myeloma Research.
Dr. Morgan’s current research is based on characterizing the myeloma genome to identify disease drivers, which can be used to define specific subsets of disease and to design personalized therapeutic strategies against each subtype. He has developed, used, and audited novel molecular techniques including sensitive PCR based tests, molecular cytogenetics, expression microarrays.
Rockefeller Team (Birsoy)
Kivanc received his undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics from Bilkent University in Turkey in 2004 and his Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University in 2009, where he studied molecular genetics of obesity in the laboratory of Jeffrey Friedman. In 2010, he joined the laboratory of David Sabatini at the Whitehead Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There, he combined forward genetics and metabolomics approaches to understand how different cancer types rewire their metabolism to adapt nutrient deprived environments. He also used similar approaches to study how mitochondrial dysfunction influences cellular metabolism. In 2015, Kivanc joined the Rockefeller faculty as an Assistant Professor. He is a recipient of Jane Coffin Childs Medical Fund Fellowship, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Special Fellow award, Margaret and Herman Sokol Award, NIH Career Transition Award, Irma Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier Trusts Award, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Foundation Scholar Award, March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Scholar Award, AACR NextGen award for Transformative Cancer Research, Searle Scholar Award and NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.

Clinic: Enhancing tumor immunity in MGUS/SMM

MDACC Team (Orlowski and Manasanch)

Dr. Robert Z. Orlowski is Chair Ad Interim, Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma and Director of the Myeloma Section at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and holds the Florence Maude Thomas Cancer Research Professorship in the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma, and also Professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. In addition, he serves as the Leader of the Hematologic Malignancies Program of the Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG), as well as Principal Investigator for the MD Anderson Cancer Center SPORE in Multiple Myeloma, the Principal Investigator for the MD Anderson Cancer Center High Risk Multiple Myeloma Moon Shot, and the Chair of the SWOG Barlogie/Salmon Multiple Myeloma Committee.Currently, Dr. Orlowski leads both laboratory- and clinically-based research programs studying hematologic malignancies, with a focus on multiple myeloma. In the laboratory arena, the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway has been a special area of interest, and studies performed previously have led to the validation of proteasome inhibitors, both alone and in combination with other agents, as rational therapeutics. More recent studies have focused on the feasibility of targeting E3 ubiquitin ligases and heat shock protein responses to achieve chemosensitization and overcome chemoresistance, and on identification of oncogenes that play prominent roles in the biology of myelomas and lymphomas. In the clinical arena, Dr. Orlowski has been one of the leaders in translating novel laboratory findings into the clinic, and was the first to document the clinical effectiveness of bortezomib (VELCADE®) against myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma. He also played a prominent role in the development of the VELCADE®/DOXIL® combination and of carfilzomib (KYPROLIS®) for patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, spearheading their development from the pre-clinical stage through to phase I and III studies.
Dr. Manasanch is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She graduated with an M.D. degree from the University of Barcelona in 2005 and received an M.H.Sc. in Clinical Research from Duke University in 2014. She pursued internal medicine and medical oncology training at the University of Massachusetts and National Institutes of Health, respectively and is board-certified in both specialties.During her fellowship training at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Manasanch focused on the research and treatment of plasma cell dyscrasias. In 2014, she was awarded the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Clinical Innovator Award to study predictors of outcome after anti-CD38 antibody therapy in intermediate and high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma. She received the International Myeloma Foundation 2015 Brian D. Novis Research Award to implement minimal residual disease testing in multiple myeloma. In 2016, she received the High Impact Clinical Research Support Program Award to support clinical research personnel funding. Currently, she leads the myeloma precursor disease program at MD Anderson with a focus in understanding early stages through new technology and applying immunotherapy to early treatment. A prospective observational clinical trial of MGUS and SMM is currently accruing participants to identify/validate prediction models for progression to multiple myeloma, understand the etiology and analyze new markers to target. Interventional trials with monoclonal antibodies in intermediate and high-risk SMM are currently ongoing at MD Anderson and led by Dr. Manasanch.