In 1971, Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi, who had won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of vitamin C in 1937, was working on his “bioelectronic theory” concerning the cause of cancer. However, major funding bodies considered Szent-Györgyi’s research too risky to support. While parts of his theory have been disproven, his thinking proved seminal to the study of free radicals and antioxidants, a field now occupying thousands of scientists in cancer and other disease research.
That year, lawyer and entrepreneur Franklin Salisbury, Sr. read a newspaper article about Szent-Györgyi’s work and trouble securing funds. Salisbury was familiar with “unconventional” scientific ideas: he was a founding director of rocket fuel manufacturer Atlantic Research Corporation. After reading about Szent-Györgyi, Salisbury sent him a $25 donation. He received a heartfelt reply from the Nobel Prize winner: “I am deeply touched by your generosity and compassion.”
Over the next two years, Salisbury and Szent-Györgyi joined forces. Focusing on their common qualities – idealism, and a willingness to take calculated risks – they founded the National Foundation for Cancer Research, a “laboratory without walls” dedicated to supporting promising cancer research of great scientists.
Looking back, we are proud of how far cancer research has advanced as a result of our efforts. Looking forward, we are more committed than ever to funding innovative research and accelerating the pace at which new treatments are brought to patients who need them most. Now, more than ever, we are confident that our research will one day bring us a cure for all types of cancer.