Doubling Down on Rare Cancer Research

Doubling Down on Rare Cancer Research

Philanthropic support is helping Elizabeth Henske, MD, conduct research on several rare diseases, including chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (ChRCC).

A molecular biologist turned business executive, Tom Tuttle is applying his medical problem-solving expertise to support research into the rare and deadly kidney cancer called chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (ChRCC).

“Almost no research had been done for this disease, which can have very poor outcomes for patients,” says Tuttle. “I wanted to support top researchers who are working to better understand this disease. That’s where Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) came in.”

In 2013, when Tuttle met renowned BWH physician-scientist Elizabeth Henske, MD, at a clinical oncology conference, he was impressed by her work to identify the root cause of ChRCC and made a charitable gift to her work. Now, he has stepped forward with an additional pledge of $200,000.

Using his scientific and business expertise, Tuttle is also providing ideas and resources to a rare kidney disease consortium made up of leading medical institutions. One goal is to help scientists develop the first cell lines derived from sporadic chromophobe kidney cancers—a severely under-researched subtype of ChRCC. Tuttle notes that fostering research collaborations such as these will lead to the development of new treatments.

“Thanks to Tom’s support and entrepreneurial spirit, we are positioned to make important headway in combating rare kidney cancers,” says Henske.

“Rare cancer research has been underfunded historically, so targeting philanthropy in this way provides a great opportunity to impact patients’ lives,” says Tuttle. “Dr. Henske has attracted fantastic people to her lab, and is driving success through collaboration with researchers at other labs. The Brigham can turn this investment into real progress.”