Global Funding Engine

Global Funding Engine

At PCF, we have always believed in rewarding innovative behavior. That means funding the most promising projects, from the most promising researchers. A scientific award from PCF is like a badge of honor, and our researchers are able to use this cachet to leverage even more money - from academia, industry, and government - to catalyze their research.

How PCF Leverages One Dollar into Many

PCF investigator Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health Lorelei Mucci describes how PCF’s Venture Philanthropy personally affected her: “I was awarded a PCF Young Investigator Award at a very early part of my own career and that was an investment in me as a researcher. That funding allowed me to develop a whole new area of research – I was able to apply for grants from the National Cancer Institute, the DOD, and other foundations. So, I took that initial $275,000 investment and grew it into what is now a research program of more than 10 million dollars. So that small investment in me as a young investigator has turned into a much larger investment in research and public health in prostate cancer.”

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The Windfall of Risk: The CAR T-cell Story

In June, 2011 a “proof of concept” paper was published showing a comprehensive response to CAR T-cell therapy in three leukemia patients. There was absolutely no indication that the research would apply to solid tumors. But the promise of this new treatment piqued the interest of PCF’s CEO Dr. Johnathan Simons and Chief Science Officer Dr. Howard Soule. They observed that all three patient responses to CAR T were in one form of leukemia that flies a specific indicator flag (CD19).  Because PCF had funded over $20 million in research on that indicator flag (CD19) in prostate cancer, Soule and Simons saw potential.  Just hours after he published that first result, Dr. Carl June got a call from PCF soliciting him to lead a $1,000,000 team science award. Simons and Soule agreed to provide June with data from 6 other labs, if he was interested in extending his research in leukemia into solid tumors. Three days later Dr. June had assembled a bare-bones team. Within 3 weeks he had a team of researchers in prostate cancer that he’d never met before, eager to buckle down and expand the work.


Within 6 months June had gotten positive results in solid tumors in mice that triggered millions more in investment, eventually leading to a clinical trial of 40 human patients that is now ongoing.

We couldn’t have gotten here without PCF taking a risk. I publish, and three days later Simons & Soule called me and said, “How can we put you to work for PCF?” There’s no evidence yet that it applies to solid tumors, but they are right there ready to find out.

– Dr. Carl June, CAR T-Cell Therapy Innovator

First-in-Field Funding Philosophy

PCF has a proven track record of being the frontrunner, investing in THE most innovative research ideas before anyone else. We take risks. We were first-in-field to fund immunotherapy, nutrition validation research, and CAR T-cell therapy. We have a history of funding what the government won’t.

“If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.”

- Don S. Coffey, PCF Co-Founder (1932-2017)

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