Newswise — NEW YORK, September 10, 2020 – The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all types of cancer, has announced the 2020 recipients of its highest scientific and philanthropic awards. CRI will present the awards to seven honorees during its annual gala, Innovators in Science and Philanthropy, which CRI is hosting virtually for the first time, on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, beginning at 7:00 PM ET / 4:00 PM PT. Registration to attend is free.

“Our annual gala is an opportunity to celebrate and honor individuals whose dedication to cancer immunotherapy research spurs scientific advancements that ultimately improve the lives of cancer patients,” said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs at CRI. “This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that CRI recognizes the urgent need for scientific research in addressing global public health crises, and celebrates those who support this work, through their own generosity and by inspiring others to do the same.”

CRI will host its annual celebration virtually this year to help keep its supporters and honorees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Comedian and actor Joel McHale will serve as host for the event, which will feature a special musical guest performance by Jersey country duo Gordon Brown and Reagan Richards of Williams Honor. The gala also will showcase personal testimonials of CRI’s impact on cancer patients, scientists who are making possible today’s treatment advances, and CRI donors and fundraisers who power CRI’s lifesaving mission. 


The Grace Award recognizes the contributions of exceptionally dedicated individuals or companies whose leadership has made significant impact on medical research, patient care, or public education.

This year’s recipient of the Oliver R. Grace Award is Mark E. Fischbach, more popularly known by his 26+ million fans as YouTube sensation and philanthropist Markiplier. The youngest Grace Award recipient since CRI established this honor in 1975, Fischbach will be recognized for his use of new media to inspire younger audiences to improve the world through support of charitable causes, including the Cancer Research Institute. Fischbach has raised more than a half-million dollars for CRI and has introduced CRI and its lifesaving mission to millions of his fans. 


The Coley Award is given to one or more scientists for seminal discoveries in the fields of basic immunology and tumor immunology, and whose work has deepened our understanding of the immune system’s response to cancer and advanced the development of effective cancer immunotherapies:

The 2020 William B. Coley Award will go to the following for their individual contributions to the discovery and characterization of the cGAS-STING pathway, an important component of the innate immune system that currently is being utilized in the development of novel immunotherapies against cancer:

  • Andrea Ablasser, M.D., of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • Glen N. Barber, Ph.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
  • Zhijian J. Chen, Ph.D., of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Veit Hornung, M.D., of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Russell E. Vance, Ph.D., of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California, Berkeley

2018 Nobel Laureate and CRI Scientific Advisory Council Director James P. Allison, Ph.D., will present the awards.


The Alt Award recognizes a former Cancer Research Institute-funded postdoctoral fellow in recognition of outstanding scientific contributions that have made a major impact in immunology.

The 2020 Alt Award will go to Tannishtha Reya, Ph.D., at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Reya will receive the award for her many contributions to our understanding of how stem cell programs are hijacked to drive cancer progression and therapy resistance and how they can be targeted to improve outcomes. CRI Scientific Advisory Council Associate Director Robert D. Schreiber, Ph.D., will present the award.

To register for this free virtual event, visit

Event ContactJasmine Lingard, +212.688.7515 x243, [email protected]

Media ContactBrian M. Brewer, +212.688.7515 x242, [email protected]

About the Oliver R. Grace Award for Distinguished Service in Advancing Cancer ResearchThis award, established in 1995, recognizes the contributions of dedicated laypersons whose leadership has had a significant impact on cancer research. The award is named in memory of the late Oliver R. Grace, founding chairman of the Cancer Research Institute, whose vision, wisdom, and generosity benefited the Institute for nearly 40 years. Former Grace Award winners include: Oliver R. Grace Jr., and Axel Hoos, SVP, R&D governance chair, and therapeutic area head Oncology at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) (2019), George D. Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron, and journalist and filmmaker Perri Peltz (2018); Bill Anderson, CEO of Genentech, and philanthropist and New York City real estate developer Bruce Ratner (2017); Robert A. Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen (2016); and Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and CEO of Merck & Co., and philanthropist Lauren Veronis (2015). See more past Grace Award winners here.

About the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor ImmunologyThe Cancer Research Institute established this award in 1975 in honor of Dr. William B. Coley, now regarded as the Father of Cancer Immunotherapy, whose daughter Helen Coley Nauts (1907-2001) founded the Cancer Research Institute. Award winners are nominated by CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council and former Coley Award winners, including: Geoffrey O. Coley, Zelig Eshhar, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, Antoni Ribas, Lawrence E. Samelson, Brian Seed, and Arthur Weiss (2019); Miriam Merad and Padmanee Sharma (2018); Rafi Ahmed and Thomas F. Gajewsky (2017); Ton Schumacher and Dan Littman (2016); Glenn Dranoff and Alexander Y. Rudensky (2015); Tasuku Honjo, Lieping Chen, Arlene Sharpe, and Gordon Freeman (2014); Michael Karin (2013); Carl June and Michel Sadelain (2012); Philip D. Greenberg and Steven A. Rosenberg (2011); Haruo Ohtani, Wolf Hervé Fridman, and Jérôme Galon (2010). See more past Coley Award winners here.

About the Frederick W. Alt Award for New Discoveries in ImmunologyThe Frederick W. Alt Award for New Discoveries in Immunology honors a former CRI Irvington postdoctoral fellow in recognition of outstanding success in academia or industry for research that may have a potentially major impact on immunology. The award is named after CRI Scientific Advisory Council member Frederick W. Alt, Ph.D., of the Harvard Medical School, Immune Disease Institute in Boston, MA, who has been deeply involved in cultivating the careers of emerging young scientists. Former Alt award winners include: Shane Crotty (2019), Boris Reizis (2018); Shannon J. Turley (2017); E. John Wherry (2016); Nina Bhardwaj (2015), Iannis Aifantis (2014), Jill O’Donnell-Tormey (2013), Sebastian Amigorena (2012), Stephen C. Jameson (2011), Jason G. Cyster (2010), Anjana Rao (2009), Sankar Ghosh (2008), and Gourisanker Ghosh (2007). See more past Alt Award winners here.

About Cancer Research InstituteThe Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is a highly-rated U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to saving more lives by fueling the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all cancers. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes four Nobel laureates and 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested $445 million in support of research conducted by immunologists and tumor immunologists at the world’s leading medical centers and universities, and has contributed to many of the key scientific advances that demonstrate the potential for immunotherapy to change the face of cancer treatment. To learn more, go to

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