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Scientist in the Lab

About the Foundation

Pancreatic Cancer is a devastating disease.  In the vast majority of cases, the diagnosis leaves few options for the patient and their family.  This year it is estimated that 55,440 people in the US will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and 44,330 will succumb to that disease.  In 2016, it surpassed breast cancer as the fourth leading cause of cancer related death and it is projected to surpass colorectal cancer in 2020 as the third leading cause.  Of all the major cancers, it has the lowest 5-year survival rate of just 9%.  There are no effective early detection methods and most pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage.  Only 20% of patients are diagnosed early enough to undergo tumor resection.  However, of those patients who undergo surgery, the tumor will recur in 80%.  The median survival for metastatic pancreatic cancer is 3-6 months with the standard of care. An estimated $168 million was spent on pancreatic cancer research in 2016 by the NIH which accounts for 0.5% of its research budget.  


The Robert L. Fine Cancer Research Foundation, a 503c private foundation, was founded in 1999 to support pancreatic cancer research in Dr. Fine’s laboratory.  The Foundation was instrumental in funding many of Dr. Fine’s advances including the development of GTX for metastatic pancreatic cancer.  The Foundation continues to support basic and translational research in pancreatic cancer in the spirit of his fight against pancreatic cancer and in honor of the many patients who were under his care.  

About Dr. Fine

Robert L. Fine dedicated his life to the fight against cancer.  After losing his mother to Hodgkins Lymphoma, he vowed to continue her fight by becoming a physician scientist.  He went on to medical school at the University of Chicago followed by residency training at Stanford University Hospitals and oncology fellowship at the National Institutes of Health.  Dr. Fine was the Director of Experimental Therapeutics Program and the Herbert Irving Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Oncology at Columbia University Medical Center from 1995 to 2015.   During that time, his laboratory was at the national forefront of translational breakthroughs in pancreatic cancer.  Dr. Fine has published 127 peer reviewed papers in pancreatic cancer, 175 abstracts and 21 book chapters.  He was voted in 2006 as one of the top three thought leaders in pancreatic cancer and was voted one of America’s Top Doctors for 10 years in a row.  From his laboratory research, Dr. Fine was able to develop novel chemotherapy regimens that had a major impact on pancreatic cancer, the most prominent of which is the combination of gemcitabine, taxotere and xeloda (GTX) for metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma.  

Publications by Dr. Fine

Dr. Fine on GTX in Inoperable Pancreatic Cancer

Dr. Fine on GTX in Inoperable Pancreatic Cancer

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