On Tuesday, September 23, Tom Tombrello, passed away. In addition to being a member of our Steering Committee, Tom played a key role in getting the CanceRX initiative launched. I was first introduced to Tom by his brother-in-law and my MIT colleague, Bob Merton. A physicist by training and trade, Tom turned his attention to cancer research after losing his daughter, Kerstin Arusha, to pancreatic cancer in 2008. In addition to providing very constructive feedback to my co-authors and me on our first paper on megafund financing, Tom introduced me to a number of key contacts in the oncology research and clinical communities, and invited me to participate in a rather unusual USC/NCI-sponsored conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2012. This conference—co-organized by David Agus, Danny Hillis, Parag Mallick, and Tom—brought together scientists, clinicians, venture capitalists, and one economist for three days of meetings to brainstorm about new approaches to cancer. The idea for CanceRX 2013 was born at this meeting, thanks to a number of the participants who not only welcomed my participation but patiently tutored me in the latest thinking about the challenges and opportunities for developing cancer therapeutics. Tom continued to provide support and encouragement thereafter in so many ways—more introductions to key stakeholders in the cancer community, many conference calls and email exchanges, ideas for business structures and potential pitfalls to guard against, and so on. Those who know Tom will understand the kind of impact that he has on the people around him, and I and our Steering Committee benefited enormously from his energy and wisdom. It’s hard to imagine a world without Tom in it, but we look forward to making the most of this conference as he would have wanted.
It is, therefore, only fitting that the Steering Committee dedicate the CanceRX 2014 Conference to the memory of Professor Thomas A. Tombrello.
– Andrew W. Lo, and on behalf of the CanceRX 2014 Steering Committee