Discovery beyond boundaries.

Jonas Salk used basic science to rid the world of polio and alter the course of the 20th century. His vision was bold and his research daring, and it changed the lives of untold millions. Now, the Salk Institute has launched a similarly bold approach to take aim at five of the deadliest cancers. The Conquering Cancer Initiative is a roadmap to the future of cancer care and will empower Salk’s world-renowned research team to transform cancer therapy.


Virtually no life is untouched by cancer. One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Worldwide, cancer rates are expected to increase by as much as 75 percent by 2030. Current therapies remain insufficient to address the threat. The Salk Institute believes that cancer research is at an inflection point requiring determination and collaboration among scientists to speed up progress, expedite personalized medicine and discover new treatments. By focusing on some of the hardest cancers to treat, Salk’s scientists can unlock foundational knowledge and develop powerful tools to help treat all cancers.

Taking on five of the deadliest cancers

The Conquering Cancer Initiative is harnessing specific and emerging scientific strategies to tackle five of the deadliest cancers: pancreatic, ovarian, lung, brain (glioblastoma) and triple-negative breast cancer. By focusing on the hardest cancers to treat, Salk scientists will unlock foundational knowledge that is applicable to all cancers.

To do this, Salk researchers combine foundational biological research with advanced biomedical technologies to overcome hard-to-kill tumors. The goal is to attack multiple cancer vulnerabilities at the same time, destroying tumors before drug resistance can emerge. The knowledge and therapeutic approaches that emerge from these efforts will provide a powerful set of tools to treat a broad array of cancers, hopefully making current generations the last to see cancer as anything other than a chronic illness.

Where science happens: the Salk Cancer Center

The Cancer Center at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, led by Reuben Shaw, PhD, comprises more than half the research at the Salk Institute. It was established in 1970 and, two years later, the Cancer Center became one of the first National Cancer Institute-designated basic research cancer centers in the United States. For more than 45 years, this designation has recognized the Institute’s scientific rigor across its laboratory research, scientific discoveries and therapeutic cures.

An opportunity to help make (cancer) history
Right now, Salk is seeking forward-thinking partners to join in conquering cancer. Throughout its history, the Salk Institute has relied on the generosity of friends, foundations and corporations who are committed to discovering cures and new therapies. Now more than ever, philanthropic partnership is critical to Salk’s success; you have an opportunity to join them.

For more information or to make a gift, please contact Sandy Liarakos, Senior Director, External Relations/Cancer Center at (858) 732-9580. To learn more about the Salk Institute, visit