Bertarelli Rare Cancers Fund

Established at Harvard Medical School (HMS) in 2019 by the Bertarelli Foundation, the Bertarelli Rare Cancers Fund (BRCF) supports research projects and community building around rare cancers.

The first round of grants was awarded in 2020, to nine teams representing more than 19 lead and co-lead investigators across HMS and its affiliated hospitals. Research kicked off this winter.

The fund director is Ed Harlow, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research and Teaching in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.

HMS and the Bertarelli Foundation envision the BRCF as a catalyst to build the infrastructure, generate the knowledge, and strengthen the research communities for rare cancers that more common cancers benefit from, with the ultimate goal to improve the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of rare cancers.

The first grants span basic, translational, and clinical science while linking junior and senior faculty across the HMS community. The multidisciplinary collaborations promise to approach problems from different perspectives and produce stronger science.

Grant recipients are investigating different individual rare cancers as well as genetic and molecular mechanisms that span multiple rare cancers.

The fund administrators plan to support projects that build biological tools for studying clear cell cancers, including cell lines, xenografts, and three-dimensional tissue structures known as organoids.