The Pershing Square Foundation Has Committed More Than $43 Million to 71 Scientists in the Greater New York Area to Support High-Risk, High-Reward Cancer Research

NEW YORK, JUNE 4, 2024 (Business Wire) – The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance today announced the five winners of the 2024 Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research, awarded annually to cancer research scientists and physician-scientists based in the greater New York City area. The Prize, totaling $3.75 million, empowers investigators early in their independent careers to pursue their most exciting research projects at a critical stage when traditional funding is lacking. Recipients receive $250,000 per year for three years.

Over the past eleven years, the Alliance has awarded over $43 million to 71 scientists at 13 institutions in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. With this funding, the recipients will contribute to the greater New York City area’s growing biomedical research hub. In addition to funding, the Alliance provides Prize winners with opportunities to present their work to scientific and business audiences to encourage collaboration and help bridge the gap between academia and industry.

“We are honored to partner with the five outstanding recipients of this year’s Pershing Square Sohn Prize,” said Bill Ackman, Co-Trustee of The Pershing Square Foundation and CEO of Pershing Square. “The Prize emboldens scientists to think unconventionally and explore their innovative ideas as they work to better understand, diagnose, and treat cancer.”

The winners of the 2024 Pershing Square Sohn Prize are:

  • Samuel Bakhoum, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Dissecting The Role of Micronuclei In Tumor Evolution: The laboratory of Dr. Bakhoum aims to examine the role of micronuclei, chromosome-containing structures, in cancer cell evolution and progression. Chromosomal instability enables cancer cells to better spread, resist therapy, and evade the immune system, and micronuclei are a hallmark of cancers with chromosomal instability. These micronuclei are defective in processing messenger RNA that is required for the genome to be properly translated into proteins, and the Bakhoum lab aims to understand how these defects impact the behavior of cancer cells and whether abnormalities in micronuclei can lead to long-lasting changes to the cancer genome that facilitate evolution. This work has the potential to uncover new treatments for some of the deadliest cancers.
  • Teresa Davoli, PhD, NYU Grossman School of Medicine – ANlocking ANeuploidy to ANatomize Cancer: Dr. Davoli and her lab are working to determine why and how most cancers show aneuploidy (the gain or loss of specific chromosomes). They will examine how cells containing chromosome gains or losses differ from normal cells, including their interaction with immune cells, and use this information to design new therapeutic strategies that specifically target cancer cells while sparing normal cells.
  • Ashley Laughney, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine – SatSeq: a scalable platform to effectively target multi-modal proteins in cancer: Computational biologist Dr. Laughney is unraveling the mysteries encoded within a protein’s sequence in a single reaction—mapping each building block (or amino acid) to a specific function or drug binding event—through her novel technology SatSeq. She will use StatSeq to look at functions of the immune-related STING protein in cancer progression and how drugs interact with it to improve patient outcomes.
  •  Juan Pablo Maianti, PhD, The Albert Einstein College of Medicine & The Montefiore Einstein Comprehensive Cancer Center – Covalent Drugs for Unsolved Cancer Targets using Electrophilic DNA-Encoded Libraries: The Maianti research group is developing a screening platform to interrogate millions of DNA-barcoded small molecules to find new treatment options for some of the most difficult-to-treat cancers. They aim to detect and decode the structures of new ligands that bind proteins irreversibly, enabling them to set their crosshairs on unaddressed oncology indications and to push the boundaries of drug discovery beyond traditional biomedical targets. Using irreversible ligands is a new tactic to increase therapeutic potency, specificity, and efficacy and to unlock new therapeutic modalities for protein targets impervious to conventional drug-screening pipelines.
  •  Santosha Vardhana, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Metabolic regulation of anti-tumor immunity by non-coding RNAs: A medical oncologist, Dr. Vardhana and his lab are working to figure out how to make our immune cells reawaken and destroy cancer cells. They will explore how dormant sequences within an immune T-cell’s genetic code serve as a ‘break’ on T-cell function within tumors, and whether targeting this newly discovered regulatory axis can restore the ability of T-cells to identify and eliminate tumors.

“When we started this program, it was our goal to build a community of innovative and talented individuals and to connect them with a family of funders and collaborators. Each year, we are humbled by the reach of this Prize, and we are grateful for our grantees’ pursuits of novel ideas, therapies, technologies, and, ultimately, knowledge,” said Olivia Tournay Flatto, PhD, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance and President of The Pershing Square Foundation.

“The work to find new treatments and cures for cancer continues to be an urgent global health priority so we are heartened by the research approaches of this year’s Prize winners,” said Evan Sohn, Vice President of the Sohn Conference Foundation. “We are confident that with the passion, creativity, and insights we’ve seen from this group of scientists, they will make discoveries that will have a lasting impact for the patients for whom our Foundation fights.”

As part of the selection process, the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance relied on and benefitted from the guidance of a highly accomplished advisory board.

Prize Advisory Board members include: Jeanne B. Ackman, MD, Radiologist, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development, and Medical, Pfizer, Inc.; Allan Goodman, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, The Institute of International Education; Pablo Legorreta, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Royalty Pharma; Richard P. Lifton, MD, PhD, President, The Rockefeller University; Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Columbia University Medical Center, and Author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer and The Gene: An Intimate History; James E. Rothman, PhD, Sterling Professor of Cell Biology and Professor of Chemistry, Yale University and 2013 Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology or Medicine; Bruce Stillman, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Craig Thompson, MD, Member and Former President and Chief Executive Officer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron.

Additional details about the Prize winners can be found on the PSSCRA website at

About the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance

The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance was formed in 2013 by The Pershing Square Foundation, which has since committed more than $43 million to 71 scientists, in partnership with The Sohn Conference Foundation. The Alliance is dedicated to playing a catalytic role in accelerating cures for cancer by supporting innovative cancer research and by facilitating collaborations between academia and industry. Annually, the Alliance awards The Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research, which provides early-career, greater New York area-based scientists the freedom to take risks and pursue their boldest research at a stage when traditional funding is lacking. For more information, visit