Notable Achievements

The T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1975 when music industry executive Tony Martell promised his son, T.J., a young victim of leukemia, he would raise a million dollars to fight the disease.

In 45 years, the Foundation has provided over $280 million for research at nine flagship hospitals in the United States.

Through the T.J. Martell Foundation’s venture capital, many of our supported scientific researchers have been able to leverage our funding through sources such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute with the mission of developing clinical trials and new drug discoveries. We can conservatively estimate that our funding has resulted in approximately $1 billion.


Research breakthroughs include:

  • Neuroblastoma, a deadly form of cancer attacking young children, had a survival rate of less than 20%. For over 25 years, the T.J. Martell Foundation has supported research in this field and now the cure rate is 45%. We continue to fund this effort with the expectation that we will soon have a 100% cure rate.
  • The T.J. Martell Memorial Laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai continues to explore the role of a virus as a major cause of human breast cancer. Our team has shown that 8% of unselected American women pass the virus in their milk, which offers a plausible explanation for how women acquire it in infancy. Final proof of this concept opens opportunities for prevention and special treatments that could decrease breast cancer by nearly half in the developed world.
  • The T.J. Martell Foundation supported researchers at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center isolated the “killer” prostate cancer gene (oncogene). Work has begun on developing targeted therapy to block or turn-off this prostate oncogene.
  • Neuropsycho-oncology investigators funded by the T.J. Martell Foundation at Memorial Sloan Kettering have discovered the gene that predisposes breast cancer patients to develop “chemo brain” and have begun to develop a better understanding of the brain changes that occur and interventions to enhance attention and memory in patients on chemotherapy. Our Psychotherapy researchers have developed novel, effective counseling interventions to reduce fear of recurrence in breast cancer patients, and reduce distress in cancer caregivers.
  • Lung cancer investigators funded by the T.J. Martell Foundation at MD Anderson Cancer Center have discovered for the first time that the immune cell populations in different regions within the same tumors are different, a phenomena termed as immune intra-tumor heterogeneity and the extent of immune intra-tumor heterogeneity is associated with risks of lung cancer recurrence after surgery, therefore, suggested different treatment strategy is needed for different patients.

We support research at nine top hospitals in the United States. Current research facilities funded by the Foundation include:

  • Mount Sinai Medical Center
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • Columbia-Presbyterian Cancer Center
  • Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
  • Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
  • Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University
  • University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • City of Hope
  • University of California, San Francisco