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Friends of CNIO Day. Donors and beneficiaries ‘match up’ and share their stories with each other

27.06.2024

Research needs you

Researcher Paula Martínez (right) with CNIO friend Ana Mª Callejón. / Laura M. Lombardía. CNIO Researcher Paula Martínez (right) with CNIO friend Ana Mª Callejón. / Laura M. Lombardía. CNIO

Individuals, associations and companies that support cancer research through the 'Friends of CNIO' programme have the chance to visit young researchers, recruited thanks to their contributions, at the Friends of CNIO Day.

100% of donations made to the Friends of CNIO programme are used to recruit cancer researchers, thus contributing to the goal of attracting and retaining talent.

CNIO Friend's Day group picture

“Your generosity has allowed me to return to Spain with my family and put here into use what I have learned over my five years in the United States,” Clara Reglero, a researcher at the National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), said during the Friends of CNIO Day, at which the Centre welcomes donors from its philanthropic programme.

Reglero was the last of seven young people who spoke on this day, explaining their research to their benefactors. All their contracts are financed by ‘Friends of CNIO, “the initiative we started in 2014 to retain and attract talent to CNIO, which is what we consider most important right now” explained Maria A. Blasco, scientific director of the centre.

Through this programme, CNIO appeals directly to those who want to support cancer research in a major international research centre. 100% of the donations are used to recruit young researchers, with a total of 37 so far.

More and increasingly diverse donors

While the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) forecasts a 47% increase in the global prevalence of cancer over the next two decades, the initiative’s regular donors have also “been increasing in number and variety” says Jessica Rose, director of Philanthropy and Development at CNIO.

“They include personal donors, companies, foundations, patient associations, local entities, different generations of the same family… The profiles are very diverse, which is very understandable because cancer affects us all” adds Rose.

From the left: Mª Ángeles Sánchez (CNIO Friend), Maria Blasco, researcher Eva González and  Flor Sánchez (Mª Ángeles’s sister)./ Laura M. Lombardía. CNIO.
From the left: Mª Ángeles Sánchez (CNIO Friend), Maria Blasco, researcher Eva González and Flor Sánchez (Mª Ángeles’s sister)./ Laura M. Lombardía. CNIO.

Visiting research facilities and listening to scientists in person

Once a year, CNIO welcomes its donors, who can visit several research groups and meet in person the scientists who have been recruited thanks to their contributions.

On this occasion María Martínez, Lluís Cordón, Carolina Villarroya, Isabel Espejo (Friends of CNIO – La Roche-Posay Contract), Mikhail Chesnokov and Macarena Pozo –in addition to Clara Reglero– explained how they are investigating the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer, the factors that contribute to its aggressiveness, to metastases or to drug resistance; also, how to create animal models to study cancer, how to diagnose earlier, or which molecules to target with new drugs. 

Excitement, contributions and hope

And there was also room for several CNIO friends to talk about why they decided to join the programme. Gema Mazón Gutiérrez (in the centre of the photo with Jasminka Boskovi) was moved by “the excitement of contributing to the advancement of research into a disease that has had a great impact on my family.”

“Being a friend of CNIO has given me joy and pride,” she added, “it has put me in contact with the most advanced research and the link between science and art, philosophy and nature. I am proud to find out about the progress you are making and also see your efforts to support the work of women scientists and young people and to communicate the best science to the public. Your work fills me with hope.”

Isabel Castillejo and Leonor Prieto, from L’Orèal España, recalled that “we are united by the common goal of more research, less cancer, since research is the fundamental key to advancing treatments and beating it”.

Members of the Solidarity Committee from Brother Iberia stated: “we are aware that cancer is a very widespread disease (who among us doesn’t have a relative or an acquaintance who has suffered from it?), so we believe that the best way to fight this disease is to promote research. When we learned about the extensive work and impact of CNIO’s advances in the fight against cancer, we decided to do our bit and contribute to its work of promoting innovative cancer research programmes for the benefit of cancer patients and their relatives.”

This event was once again attended this year by members of Fundación Domingo Martínez, which supports Yurena Vivas’s research into cancer and the tumour microenvironment.

Pilar Basurco attended with her daughter Cecilia (both in the photo below), who studies Biology: “We come for the second time. I’m a CNIO Friend to support research, which I think is important. And I am especially enjoying the so many young people around, which is wonderful.”

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