Immunotherapy Foundation

Fernanda Whitworth

In 2015, Immunotherapy Foundation (IF) resolved to raise $6 million to fund pioneering cancer immunotherapy research. The founding team knew funding was key to eradicating a highly preventable and treatable form of cancer: HPV-related cancers. With public research dollars on the decline, IF co-founders, Fernanda and Ralph Whitworth, saw the opportunity for philanthropy to catalyze research that would lead to cures. Today, with the finish line of their initial campaign in sight, IF is reflecting on the impact of its work and the possibilities that lie ahead.

“It has been an enlightening journey since my late-husband, Ralph, and I founded IF with a mission to eradicate HPV-related cancers, Fernanda Whitworth, Co-Founder and President of IF shared with GB Magazine. “He would be so proud to know that since his passing in 2016, IF has significantly impacted the world of cancer immunotherapy research and has created an educational platform to build awareness of HPV and the importance of the HPV vaccine for children ages 9 to 14 years of age.”

Fernanda added, “Through the generosity of our donors, IF has enabled scientific discoveries to progress, including a personalized cancer vaccine that is treating patients and delivering hope to all for a cancer-free world. Beyond that, the funding dollars IF has provided have grown exponentially, leading to more than $20 million in additional grants. It is more than I could have ever imagined, but I know there is still much to be done.”

With over $4.7 million collaboratively raised towards IF’s $6 million campaign, a world without cancer is closer than ever. IF’s work focuses on two pillars of support: Prevention and Cure.

Preventing Cancer:
In partnership with Project Concern International (PCI), a nearly 60-year-old non-profit organization with work in over 15 countries, IF funded and co-developed a cancer prevention educational program utilizing community-based delivery of care. Through the program, community health workers were trained to educate communities on the prevalence of HPV and the importance of vaccinating boys and girls between 9 and 14 years of age. In their 2019 report, PCI highlighted the importance of generating awareness of the mounting public health issue of HPV, emphasizing that the safe and effective HPV vaccine can prevent HPV-related cancers for future generations.

Curing Cancer:
They were determined to create a world without cancer when Ralph and Fernanda co-founded IF, but they knew they could not do it alone. With this vision, Fernanda and Ralph forged a partnership between UCSD, LJI and IF donors. This partnership has led the building of a state-of-the-art human cell processing center, increased patient access to cancer immunotherapy trials, and enabled the platform to create personalized cancer vaccines based on one’s own immune system. In five short years, IF’s impact on ground-breaking oncology research and improved patient care is profound.

IF’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that future generations are free of preventable and treatable cancers is unparalleled. “Because of the power of philanthropy, we WILL know a world without cancer,” said Fernanda, “We are working against time though, and we need every person in San Diego and around the world to join us in this mission. Together, we will beat this awful disease. IF will not stop its work until this dream is realized.”

Save the date for IF’s annual Rock and Roll Avalanche concert – September 25, 2020 – artist to be announced soon!

To learn more about to support Immunotherapy Foundation, please visit


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Esteban Villanueva