Through his work with Curebound, local resident’s goal is to ‘cure cancer in our lifetime’

Cindy and Larry Bloch
(Copyright of Larry Bloch)

For Larry Bloch, curing cancer is personal.

Three years ago, the Rancho Santa Fe investor’s world was turned upside down when his 32-year-old daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer. After months of treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, his daughter was pronounced cancer-free.

Thankful for his daughter’s recovery, Bloch looked for a way to get involved in the fight against cancer. He helped found Curebound, a nonprofit that encourages scientific collaboration to research novel cancer treatments and bring them to patients.

“I got involved with Curebound as a very grateful parent,” said Bloch. Both Bloch and his wife, Cindy, have supported the organization financially and volunteered their time to making Curebound a success.

Curebound was launched following the merger of two existing cancer research support programs, Padres Pedal the Cause and the Immunotherapy Foundation. Pedal the Cause held an annual fundraising bike ride and was founded by Bill Koman, a two-time lymphoma survivor and his wife, Amy.

The Immunotherapy Foundation was established in 2015 by Rancho Santa Fe residents Ralph and Fernanda Whitworth.

Now unified as one organization, Curebound aims to bring new cancer treatments to patients by funding basic research, and continuing to support the most promising projects as they advance toward clinical trials and beyond, said Bloch.

“We thought if they came together we could do more,” Bloch said.

Bloch brought a wealth of business and nonprofit expertise to the table and he now serves on Curebound’s board of directors. He formerly headed up a directory publishing company and served as a trustee for the University of Rochester. He’s currently a private investor in real estate and venture capital.

Among Curebound’s fundraising efforts is a concert with Alicia Keyes at the Rady Shell on Friday, Nov. 4, and, next spring, Pedal the Cause, which includes several cycling courses, a 5k run/walk and spin classes, all to raise money for cancer research.

Curebound primarily funds six San Diego-based research centers and hospitals – UCSD Moores Cancer Center, the Salk Institute, Sanford Burnham Prebys, Rady Children’s Hospital, the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, and the Scripps Research Institute.

To be eligible for a Curebound grant, a research team must include members from at least two of the six organizations, said Bloch.

“We’re trying to facilitate introductions and collaborations across these platforms,” said Bloch. Each entity brings its own specific focus and strengths to San Diego’s thriving biotech community.

“Individually they are world-class. Together they are unbelievable,” Bloch said.

Curebound plans to disburse grants at three funding levels, said Anne Marbarger, Curebound CEO and formerly an executive with Pedal the Cause.

Discovery grants of up to $250,000 apiece are provided for early research. Curebound in September announced the awarding of 12 discovery grants for a total of $3 million.

The next level is targeted grants of up to $500,000 apiece, which are intended as follow-up funding for a project that has promising data but may need additional support to reach clinical trials, Marbarger said.

Next year, Curebound plans to award its first Cure Prize, an award of at least $1 million, for an innovation that improves a standard of care for a type of cancer that is typically fatal, with implementation in the next five years. Applications for the Cure Prize were due in early October.

Curebound’s goal is to be able to award at least $10 million in total grants annually, Marbarger said.

San Diego’s biotech community includes research institutions that can make scientific breakthroughs, as well as companies to turn those ideas into actual drugs for patients, Marbarger said.

“We think there are all these ingredients in San Diego that can change how we deal with cancer,” she said.

The organization’s ambitious goal is to raise $100 million to fund cancer research. Among its initiatives is a Founder’s Fund that has already raised $22 million, Bloch said.

San Diego has the infrastructure in place to become a leading hub for discovery and development of life-saving cancer treatments, sad Bloch, and a partnership between scientists and philanthropists will drive the effort.

“Our goal is to cure cancer in our lifetime,” he said.

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