A Movement

Changing the way cancer research gets done

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is a groundbreaking movement to accelerate innovative cancer research that gets new therapies to patients quickly and saves lives now. Put simply, SU2C mandates collaboration among the best and the brightest to achieve patient benefits. Utilizing the assets of the entertainment industry in unique ways, SU2C is engaging Americans from sea to mountains, farms to cities and across all walks of life, as cancer affects each and every one of us, and therefore we all have a stake in this fight. Together, we can end cancer as we know it.

SU2C’s Scientific Advisory Committee, and scientific partner, the prestigious American Association for Cancer Research, have helped SU2C successfully create a model for cancer research, which we believe has demonstrated the impact of collaboration, influencing cancer research across the country and beyond. The focus is kept on patients and on the treatments that can benefit them today.

SU2C researchers compete against cancer to make the next discovery, rather than competing against each other to secure funding or publish the next paper. SU2C’s signature Dream Teams are focused on finding solutions that will benefit the patients who so desperately need them.

Why SU2C is Different

Distinctive Grant Funding Model

SU2C’s unique model, developed with the help of prominent cancer researchers, encourages collaboration and innovation through two new types of scientific grants.

Dream Team grants are awarded to multi-institutional groups of scientists who work collaboratively, rather than competitively, to develop new treatments quickly in order to save lives now. We know the power of a group of dream team athletes. These scientists give new meaning to the phrase ‘dream team.’ With their collective expertise, we are truly making strides in the fight against cancer.

Innovative Research Grants support groundbreaking cancer research projects that are high-risk but could also be high-impact, and have the potential to significantly affect patient care. We like to think of these ‘young’ researchers as a garage band of scientists. They show profound promise that could lead to extraordinary breakthroughs in research.

SU2C by the numbers:

  • 101 Team Science Awards
  • 47 grants to individual early-career researchers
  • Over 1600 Scientists
  • Across 180 institutions

What does this mean? Over 180 clinical trials involving more than 12,000 patients who have participated in clinical trials supported by SU2C!


Our American Airlines family reaches far and wide, with more than130,000 team members, including team members from three wholly owned airlines. With one in three Americans diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, chances are, at some point, you or someone you love could be impacted by cancer.

This was the driving force behind American’s decision to start a multi-year collaboration withSU2C.

In this destination map, the journey begins with prevention, screening, and early detection-the things that we can all do together, as a team. The route takes us through treatment and survivorship, and the destination we all want to share: Wellness.

Just as American Airlines connects the world, SU2C links the cancer research community. Cancer knows no borders or geographic boundaries, so it requires a different approach-one that puts teamwork and collaboration first.

SU2C is approaching cancer research differently. Their mission includes extensive collaboration, not only engaging researchers from multiple institutions in each research team, but ensuring collaboration across those teams. This means research teams working on melanoma, a form of skin cancer, share what they’ve learned, which has resulted in new treatments for lung cancer. It means the researchers studying prostate cancer, who discovered BRCA mutations in men who were diagnosed with advance prostate cancer, have access to research about treatments for various cancers that affect women also involving BRCA mutations.

The second reason American Airlines is partnering with SU2C is to increase awareness on cancer prevention. Did you know many cancers can be prevented just by changing lifestyle and habits? We believe the collaboration between American Airlines and Stand Up To Cancer will increase your ability to learn more about cancer prevention and how SU2C is pursuing research into cancer prevention, and a new and exciting area called “interception” … think football … stopping the cancer before it gets a chance to score. We will also be sharing insight on how SU2C is opening doors to new clinical trials.

When you look at a destination map, you begin to think about the exciting possibilities, the places you might discover. This journey to better health might be the most important and exciting of them all.


“Stand Up To Cancer, they’re a big part of why I’m alive.”

David Gobin,
Retired Baltimore Police Officer


The Facts

  • This year alone cancer will claim more than 9 million lives, worldwide.
  • In the United States alone, one person every minute – more than 1,600 people every day-will die of cancer.
  • 1 out of every 3 men and women in the US will be diagnosed during their lifetimes.
  • Cancers associated with 87% of all cancer cases, and 81% of all cancer deaths in the US are investigated as part of SU2C’s research portfolio.

Science is on the verge of breakthroughs that can end cancer’s reign as a leading killer. In the meantime, you can make lifestyle choices that may reduce your chances of developing cancer.


Why now?

We are now learning so much about the biology that drives cancer. With knowledge gained from the mapping of the human genome, we can target the genes and pathways that are involved in turning normal cells into cancerous ones. We are on the brink of developing a toolbox full of new, advanced therapies to benefit patients. Right before us, are scientific breakthroughs in the prevention, detection, treatment – and even reversal – of this disease.


We’re all working together on this one. You, SU2C and American Airlines are in a new kind of collaboration, where we all join forces together to envision and create a healthier future.

SU2C Breast Cancer Dream team

The SU2C Breast Cancer Dream team showed that a drug (palociclib) for advanced breast cancer dramatically increased survival, gaining “breakthrough therapy” status from the FDA — reserved for important and essential therapies that may demonstrate substantial benefits to patients.This approval is intended for postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER–positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2–negative metastatic breast cancer who have not yet received an endocrine-based therapy. It is to be used in combination with letrozole, another FDA-approved product used to treat certain kinds of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. This approval was a first-in-class CDK4/6 inhibitor approval by the FDA. It improved treatment options for women with metastatic disease.

SU2C Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team

A new combination of drugs that lengthens lifespan in advanced pancreatic cancer was approved by the FDA, based on work by the SU2C Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team. This was the first approval for a first-line pancreatic cancer treatment in 15 years. This combination has become first-line, standard of care for many pancreatic cancer patients across the US.

SU2C Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance–National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Ovarian Cancer Dream Team

In December 2016, the FDA granted accelerated approval to a new drug, rucaparib (or Rubraca from Clovis Oncology to treat women with BRCA1/2 mutated ovarian cancer, making it only the second PARP inhibitor to gain approval. The approval was based in part on data from a study conducted by the SU2C Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance–National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Ovarian Cancer Dream Team,among others. This treatment is for women

  • whose disease has progressed despite multiple rounds of platinum-based chemotherapy.
SU2C-St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team

Research by the SU2C-St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Teamsupported FDA approval of two new treatments for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in children and young adults. This first -of-its kind therapy trains patients’ immune cells to eliminate cancer. These two related FDA approvals include the chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T-cell) therapy Kymriah™ (tisagenlecleucel, from Novartis, which was approved by the FDA in September 2017for the treatment of relapsed or difficult-to-treat leukemia in children and young adults. Scientists on this Pediatric Dream Team helped carry out the preliminary clinical work that led to the conclusive trial for this first-of-its-kind therapy that trains a patient’s immune cells to eliminate cancer. The FDA also approved a new treatment to manage severe cytokine release syndrome (CRS), the “cytokine storm” that affects some patients. SU2C-supported scientists identified biomarkers that can help predict which patients receiving T-cell therapy will encounter CRS. The biomarkers will help guide management of the patient and mitigate the effects of CRS.

SU2C-Prostate Cancer Foundation Prostate Cancer Dream Team

SU2C-Prostate Cancer Foundation Prostate Cancer Dream Team researchers have identified precision or personalized strategies to treat men with metastatic cancer with a novel combination of existing DNA Repair drugs for men with advance prostate cancer who have developed BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations.  This novel combination of existing drugs was awarded FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation in 2016 to fill an unmet need in prostate cancer. The Dream Team determined that men with advanced prostate cancer are more likely to have actionable genetic mutations than men whose prostate cancer is localized. Therefore, men with metastatic prostate cancer should have their DNA sequenced to see if they are candidates for targeted therapies such as DNA-repair, PARP inhibitor drugs.

Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team

TheSU2C Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team developed a new method of identifying pancreatic tumors that have spread to the brain and liver, which could significantly aid in diagnosis.

  • The Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team discovered that these cancer cells might be tricked into “eating” a cancer-killing drug.
SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team

The SU2C Epigenetics Dream Teamshowed that epigenetic therapy makes lung cancers more vulnerable to further treatment. It’s a new way of thinking about treatment that could change the way we treat other cancers. The Epigenetics Dream Team quickly moved a new leukemia drug into trials in patients. Follow-up trials are very promising.

SU2C-CRI Immunology Dream

The SU2C-CRI Immunology Dream Team harnesses patients’ own immune systems to attack cancer, an exciting new direction in research. Melanoma cells, like most cancer cells, are able to impersonate normal cells and therefore are not identified by the body’s immune system. Melanoma cells with a BRAF gene mutation are also able to turn off the immune system’s response and keep growing. Once it starts spreading, melanoma acts aggressively and can often move to the brain. Science does not yet have treatments for many mutations that drive melanoma. To get around this lack of treatments, SU2C researchers are focused on both helping the immune system recognize melanoma cancer cells and stopping those cells from turning off the immune system. In doing so, they have developed a treatment that, for the first time, administers two types of immunotherapy simultaneously to control cancer. First, adoptive cell therapy teaches the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as a foreign invader, but the cancer can quickly adapt itself to avoid detection. The addition of a second immunotherapy, called IPI (for ipilimumab, uses antibodies to block the action of protein receptors that can stop the immune system’s work. The combined effects of the two therapies seem to be enough to eliminate the cancer. Further testing of the concept is being supported by SU2C. In addition to these advances in treating melanoma, studies by the Dream Team show encouraging effects in advanced lung cancers and additional clinical trials are underway investigating immunotherapies potential in bladder cancers.


SU2C researchers have significantly advanced the use of Organoids as an effective tool to identify targeted and personalized treatment for individual patient’s cancer. Scientists and medical doctors both, for different reasons, need to be able to grow cancers in laboratory settings to test new therapies and determine which drugs might work best for a particular patient. Recent breakthroughs in isolating diseased cells and growing them in the lab is making this possible, and SU2C has been at the forefront of bringing the new technology to the study and treatment of cancer. Organoids are miniature cellular systems, created from a person’s own tissues, that allow scientists to understand and study disease progression in a realistic setting. This allows scientists to quickly observe how new treatments affect not only the tumor cells, but also the surrounding tissue that supports cancer growth. This powerful system more closely mimics the real-life situation, avoiding the false positives and other pitfalls associated with animal tissue samples or other laboratory techniques. Organoids can be used to test targeted therapies, combinations of drugs, and methods for detecting cancers in humans. SU2C grantees are working to make this possible in breast, colon, pancreatic, esophageal and ovarian cancers.


SU2C researchers are imaging cancer to see how cells “eat” sugars to shed light on cancer progresses and how to detect cancer. In order to perform their work and to replicate, most cells in the body rely on glucose as their primary energy source, but there are a number of other sugars and amino acids that circulate in the bloodstream for cells to ingest for fuel. Some tumors use glutamine as their energy source, which offers scientists an intriguing new way to see and measure the progress of cancer cells once they have been located. SU2C-supported researchers have created a “tagged” dye version of glutamine that can be seen on scanners after a cell absorbs it. This provides for better imaging of tumors. As a result, some cancers that are notoriously difficult to measure can receive a detailed confirmatory diagnostic, for instance when a patient is being investigated for possible pancreatic cancer after an MRI shows a shadow on the pancreas. Originally developed for better imaging of pancreatic cancers, the technique also shows promise in measuring and monitoring the progress of some brain cancers. If the technology can be developed for widespread use, it will allow doctors to detect the spread of cancers in the body, measure responses to treatment, determine when new medicines are needed, and reduce the reliance on expensive and complicated PET scanning for patients with cancer.

SU2C Women's Cancers (PI3K) Dream Team

Working with pharmaceutical companies, the SU2C Women’s Cancers (PI3K) Dream Teamlaunched clinical trials of a new combination therapy aimed at a common “signaling network” in cancer cells. Currently, doctors lack effective treatment options for the subtype of breast cancers known as “triple negative” breast cancer, which accounts for about 20% of new breast cancer diagnoses each year. Starting in 2015, SU2C-funded scientists have tested a new combination of experimental treatments for these cancers. The combination involves a PARP inhibitor which turns off one of the cell’s DNA-repair mechanisms and helps halt future growth of the cancerous cell. The second agent is PI3K inhibitor, which shuts down a kinase that broadly stimulates cell growth. Together, a dramatic synergistic response has been observed, and scientists are working to understand why. It seems that the PI3K inhibitor makes the cells more sensitive to the PARP inhibitor. Clinical trials to further refine this discovery are underway, and later in 2019 we will know if a new treatment can be widely tested for triple-negative breast cancer. The combination was effective in certain patients with a particular subtype of breast cancer.

SU2C Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Chip Dream Team

The SU2C Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Chip Dream Teamdeveloped a device that can find a single cancer cell amid 1 billion cells in a teaspoon of blood and will allow doctors to monitor and fine-tune treatments in cancer patients in real time.

SU2C-Melanoma Research Alliance Dream Team

The SU2C-Melanoma Research Alliance Dream Teamreceived the first-ever FDA approval for a new approach to rapid genetic profiling of melanoma, which makes it possible to  match drugs to individual tumors based on their genetic characteristics –an example of “precision” or “personalized” medicine.