At John Wayne Cancer Foundation, our primary objective is to fight cancer through research, education, awareness and support. The research pillar of our organization is so important because it's where we learn how best to prevent, detect and treat cancers, which leads to longer and healthier lives for all.

Here are some of the ways we are currently supporting cancer research and studies we've funded in years passed. Let's keep fighting with courage, strength and grit!

Current Cancer REsearch

Premier Girls Fastpitch Research Grant

Molecular Profiling of Primary Tumors to Assess Lymph Node Disease by Maggie DiNome, MD at Duke University

“I am incredibly honored to receive funding support from the John Wayne Cancer Foundation for my research in breast cancer, the most common cancer affecting women worldwide. The JWCF has a strong history of giving, which has supported transformative cancer research and has improved the lives of so many. I am grateful to partner with the John Wayne family in an effort to reduce overtreatment and improve the outcomes of patients with breast cancer.” - Dr. Maggie DiNome

John Wayne Alumni Fellows Grant 

Serum Derived miRNAs to Predict the Site of Recurrence in Melanoma Patients By Dr. Richard Essner, MD at Saint Johns Cancer Institute/Providence

“Development of a predictive model in the blood would be a first in melanoma and one of the first in cancer being an accurate predictor of patient outcome. So we continue the work and we’re appreciative of the support from the John Wayne Cancer Foundation”

To learn more from Dr. Essner click here.

Ron Lawson Memorial Cancer Research Grant

Navajo Healthy Stomach Project by Dr. Robin B. Harris (pictured here with Heidi Brown, Project Collaborator on this study)

"With funding from the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, we will: 1) complete a 6-month follow-up survey of the participants in the 2022 Navajo Healthy Stomach Project to assess barriers to treatment seeking and issues related to treatment compliance and 2) disseminate our findings to personnel and community partners at health care centers, chapters, and agencies of the Navajo Nation."

2022 Funded Research

Characterization and Targeting of Cancer Stem Cells in Peritoneal Carcinomatosis from Colorectal Cancer by Dr. Adam  Khader MD at Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center-Richmond

“We are grateful to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation for this gracious grant which will help move us one step closer towards understanding the unique biology of cancer stem cells in patients with metastatic colon cancer to the peritoneum.”  - Dr. Adam Khader MD


Mark Faries, MD at Cedars-Sinai Medical Care Foundation

"Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and is epidemic in the US and many parts of the world. Although most skin cancers can be cured, particularly if they are diagnosed early, prevention is probably the best approach. Sun protection is the most important part of prevention, but some people will remain vulnerable due to their prior sun exposures or due to genetic or medical susceptibility. We are examining using nicotinamide, which is Vitamin B3, as a preventative for skin cancers. Our clinical trial involves patients at high risk of developing skin cancer due to past sun exposure or immunosuppression due to immunosuppression. This research may lead to a low risk, low-cost method of decreasing skin cancers in the future." - Dr. Mark Faries

Artificial Intelligence-Aided Digital Pathology to Improve Diagnosis in Metastatic Melanoma by David Ollila, MD at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"Artificial intelligence (aka machine learning) comes in lots of different flavors. At UNC Chapel Hill with the JWCF grant, we are trying "teach" the computer to identify metastatic melanoma cells within a melanoma patient's sentinel node. Currently, a board-certified dermatopathologist must go through each and every slide trying to find metastatic melanoma cells. For small deposits, this is incredibly time-consuming and labor intensive. We hope our AI work will allow the computer to cut this time by at least 50% while also increasing the accuracy." - David Ollila, MD 

Increasing Latinx Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Participation through Patient Navigation by Juan Santamaria, MD at University of Nebraska Medical Center

"With this intervention we are researching the factors and barriers that Latina and other minority women face when they consider enrolling on cancer clinical trials. With the assistance of lay patient advocates "Navigators", we are studying if this intervention increases awareness, understanding, and participation in cancer clinical trials among minority women with breast cancer." - Dr. Juan Santamaria

JWCF requires indirect costs to be included and identified in budget form/request, and indirect costs should not exceed 20%.


More achievements

  • 36 Years of Cancer Research
  • Leading Cancer Education - John Wayne Fellowship Program – Provide the Most Advanced Cancer Training to Doctors, A network of over 170 Doctors who reach 100,000 patients a year
  • Leading Cancer Prevention – Block the Blaze and athletic fundraising events that promote a healthy lifestyle
  • Translational Research by Doctors who conduct both Cancer Research & Treatment
  • Specimen Repository – Store cancer patient’s cells to study and improve treatment outcomes
  • Support - Innovative outdoor adventure cancer survivor support groups for kids, families, young adults, and adults – Making it possible for cancer patients and their families to support each other





- mindfulness intervention and response to stress and quality of life in patients diagnosed with breast cancer by Katherine A Yao, MD at North Shore University Health System

- Mastectomy, microscopic disease, and immune profiling in metastatic breast cancer by Anthony Lucci, MD at University of Texas MD Anderson 

- Molecular Gene Profiling of Immune Related Genes in Primary Melanoma by Richard Essner, MD at John Wayne Cancer Institute

- Multiple Antibodies Targeting Multiple Melanoma Neoantigens is Highly Effective by Dr. Krag, a Professor of Surgical Oncology at University of Vermont and State Agricultural College

- Novel sequential targeted therapy for soft tissue sarcomas by Dr. Hunt, Chair, Breast Surgical Oncology at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

- Evaluation of Lymph Nodes as Immune Sentinels in Melanoma Dr. Faries, Co-Director, Cutaneous Oncology Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical 

- Developing liquid biopsy profiles for melanoma patients receiving PD-1 therapies by Dr. Lucci, Professor, Breast Surgical Oncology at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

- Ex-Vivo theranostic nanodelivery system in pancreas cancer by Dr. Shen - Professor of Surgery, Director of Liver and Pancreas Program at Wake Forest University Health Science

- Feasibility of endoscopic gastric cancer organoids to optimize neoadjuvant chemotherapy by Dr. Kim - Associate Director at University of Kentucky Research Foundation

- Patient values in surgical decision making for breast cancer surgery by Dr. Yao - Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology at NorthShore University HealthSystem

Continuing Education For Advanced Surgical Oncology

In addition to funding doctors directly, we're proud to sponsor the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) and  American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS). These national organizations host annual conferences designed to connect leading surgeons and cancer researchers. The John Wayne Cancer Foundation is pleased to partner with both SSO and ASBrS as both organizations seek to improve cancer outcomes through continued education, science and research.  

John Wayne Cancer Foundation provides funding for the John Wayne Clinical Research Lecture at the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) International Conference. This year’s speaker is Suzanne L. Topalian, M.D. The title of her lecture is “Neoadjuvant immune checkpoint blockade: a pre-surgical window into treatment response and primary resistance.” 

 We provided funding at the ASBrS for “The John Wayne Critical Issues in Breast Cancer Forum: Breast Cancer Post-COVID.” We are grateful to provide the ASBrS with the educational grant during their annual meeting which focuses on latest science, updates and innovations for Breast Surgeons. This years moderator is Dennis Holmes, MD, FACS.