Lester and Bernice Smith Foundation Launches New Grant

Alex Smith family

This week, the Rivkin Center extended a special invitation to a very select group of ovarian cancer researchers to apply for a major new Rivkin research grant. This is a big departure from our typical funding model.

Rather than our Scientific Advisory Board defining a research question and asking the international ovarian cancer research community to send us their best proposals for answering that question, this new Challenge Grant Award will invite some of our most successful past grant recipients to share their best ideas for making a breakthrough.

The 26 researchers who received our invitation this week are past Pilot Award recipients in good standing whose work has been published in a major scientific journal. These individuals represent some of the best labs in the world, at institutions like Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General hospitals, and the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, to name a few. They are at the top of their game in a small but competitive roster of scientists.

The researchers with the top three to five ideas will be invited to apply to receive a new, two-year, $150,000 Rivkin grant award in August to produce a new discovery that could significantly improve our understanding of ovarian cancer.

The award recipient will be named the 2016–2017 Lester and Bernice Smith Fellow, in recognition of the Lester and Bernice Smith Foundation’s gift to make this new grant category possible. The Smith Foundation’s President, Alex Smith, is a longtime Rivkin board member and past board president. He understands the scarcity of funding available for ovarian cancer research and the importance of private funders like Rivkin in keeping the scientific community engaged with this disease. His family foundation has been a major Rivkin supporter for more than 15 years and was behind the creation of the initial Challenge Grant Award in 2011.

While all of our grants are funded entirely by our donors, lead gifts like this one from the Smith Foundation make it possible for the Rivkin Center to take risks and pursue important new opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. We look forward to announcing the 2016–2017 Lester and Bernice Smith Fellow this summer, and we, like the Smith family and all of our supporters, are hopefully optimistic that the Fellow’s discovery will lead to the next big thing: a major improvement in the prevention, early detection or treatment of this disease within three to five years.