Boston, MA (July 7, 2005) -- In seven short years, the 210 men and women who own Dunkin' Donuts franchises in New England have been responsible for raising $3.4 million specifically earmarked for doctors conducting research on the most difficult types of cancer. Eight doctors have been awarded grants for the 2005 Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's prestigious Dunkin' Donuts Rising Stars Program and will work on finding cures and fighting cancer.

Since 1998, the Dunkin' Donuts Rising Stars Program has advanced patient care at Dana-Farber and around the world in two major ways: by supporting innovative research on the biology, prevention and treatment of cancer; and by launching the careers of the next generation of promising young researchers. The eight "Dunkin' Donuts Rising Stars" in 2005 class of the Program are making significant contributions to their respective areas of clinical research and care with the support and guidance of James Griffin, M.D., Chairman of Adult Oncology at Dana-Farber and director of Rising Stars.

"Giving these 'rising stars' more resources allows them to bring their research to its maximum potential in a shorter period of time," said Griffin. "We are ever grateful to the Dunkin' Donuts franchise owners for establishing this fund and continuing to support it through the years."

The 2005 class includes:

  • Anthony Letai, MD, Ph.D.,of Medfield, MA, is examining how cancer cells evade programmed cell death, also known as "apoptosis," a normal physiologic process by which damaged, out of place or superfluous cells are eliminated from the body, and how this "death sentence" can be selectively restored to cancer cells.
  • Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, Ph.D., of Arlington, MA, who is working finding new targets for lung cancer therapies and testing new chemotherapeutic compounds for lung cancer.
  • Mary-Ellen Taplin, MD of Northborough, MA, is conducting a trial on the use of a new drug as a second-line hormonal therapy in men with prostate cancer that has become resistant to standard therapy.
  • Corey Cutler, MD, MPH, of West Roxbury, MA, is researching new ways of preventing Graft-vs.-Host Disease (GVHD) after stem cell transplantation. Analogous to organ rejection after solid organ transplantation, GVHD is the rejection of the recipient's body by the transplanted immune system and is one of the most critical barriers to successful transplantation.
  • Catherine Ju-Ying Wu, MD of Cambridge, MA, is developing a two-step therapy for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) that would build upon the effectiveness of Gleevec, a drug that has an impressive ability to kill off leukemia cells, She is testing vaccines to stimulate the patient's own immune system to attack persistent leukemia cells.
  • Frank Stephen Hodi Jr., MD of Framingham, Mass. Is developing vaccines to enhance the immune system and help it arm against a patient's tumor while extending the immune response with combination therapies.
  • Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH of Needham, MA, is conducting research that concentrates on the impact of diet and lifestyle factors on long-term outcomes - recurrence-free survival, overall survival, and treatment-related toxicity - among patients being treated for colorectal cancer.
  • Ruben D. Carrasco, MD, PhD, of Brookline, MA, is conducting research on multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer with a median survival rate of three years. Using advanced "micro-array" technology to analyze the genetic make-up of myeloma tumors, his research is identifying genes to target in treatments designed to prevent and treat the disease.

"On behalf of all the Dunkin' Donuts franchise owners, we are proud to support these talented doctors," said John Henderson, chairman of Dunkin' Donuts Northeast Distribution Center. "The franchisees are passionate about our commitment to the Jimmy Fund - and it is rewarding for us to be in the company of doctors who have dedicated their careers to finding a cure. We understand that unconventional, cutting-edge research often does not qualify for federal funding and we are pleased to be able to fill this niche."

Support for the Dunkin' Donuts Rising Stars Program comes exclusively from donations within the Dunkin' Donuts family - franchise owners from across New England, Dunkin' Brands - the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts, consumers and valued business partners. Each year, a golf tournament is held in honor of a colleague and former Dana Farber patient who succumbed to cancer in 1998. This year's George Mandell Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on August 9, 2005 and is expected to raise more than $1M.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, with the support of its Jimmy Fund, provides expert, compassionate care to children and adults with cancer while advancing the understanding, treatment, cure and prevention of cancer and related diseases. Founded in 1947, Boston's Dana-Farber is renowned for its unique blending of basic and clinical research and is a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

For more information about the Dunkin' Donuts Rising Stars program or the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, please visit www.dana-farber.org.