The Zena and Michael A. Wiener Professor of Medicine, Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology, and the Distinguished Service Professor of Oncological Sciences at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, Dr. Samuel Waxman has been part of the Mount Sinai faculty for over 30 years. Within those decades of experience, Dr. Waxman has written hundreds of published scientific papers and textbook chapters. As if those titles and credits were not enough, Dr. Waxman is also the founder of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, which has provided over $90 million in grants to more than 200 researchers.
The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation has regularly presented high-profile events, and continues that tradition with its Collaborating For A Cure gala on Thursday, Nov. 10. This year’s event, which celebrates the foundation’s 40 years of making a difference, will take place at Cipriani Wall Street. Tickets and more info on the gala — which will include an appearance by Roger Daltrey of The Who — can be found on the foundation’s website.
Dr. Waxman spoke to Downtown about Collaborating For A Cure, how he got involved with cancer research and what else is coming up for him. The inspirational Dr. Waxman can be visited online at www.waxmancancer.org.
Where does your passion for cancer research come from?
Dr. Samuel Waxman: The death of my mother from cancer when I was 16 affected me very deeply and inspired my passion to eradicate cancer.
When you were studying to become a doctor, what was your initial specialty?
A lot of people are skeptical about medical foundations. When someone donates to your foundation, what exactly does the money go towards?
SW: The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation specializes in funding research that identifies and corrects faulty genetic behavior that causes cancer and our grantees are all leading researchers who collaborate on projects across cancer institutes. Donations sustain their progress by covering the cost of laboratory equipment, staffing and administrative expenses that allow them to test their theories, hopefully leading to clinical trials for new cancer treatments.
Is there an accomplishment related to the foundation that you are most proud of?
SW: My collaboration through SWCRF with two distinguished cancer researchers from Shanghai, Professor Zhu Chen and Professor Zhen-Yi Wang, produced a cure for APL, a form of leukemia, that improved the five-year survival rate of patients from 25 percent to 95 percent. It remains the standard of care for APL today.
What can you tell me about this year’s gala? What’s to be expected from it?
SW: This year’s event is special because it commemorates the fortieth anniversary of the year I founded the SWCRF with a $10,000 donation I received from an executive from the fashion industry. We honor fashion leaders every year and at the Gala we are announcing a new research program named in honor of Vince Camuto, founder of Camuto Group, who passed away of prostate cancer last year. Louise Camuto will accept the honor in his memory. Our musical guest is a rock legend, Roger Daltrey of The Who.
How did you wind up working with Cipriani? Are you a member of Cipriani’s Wall Street location? Or have attended a lot there?
SW: This will be our third year holding the Collaborating For A Cure Gala at Cipriani Wall Street. It is a beautiful venue that we selected for its fine reputation and it always delivers a top-notch experience for our guests. I’m looking forward to seeing our supporters there on Nov. 10.
Do you have any other events planned beyond this year’s gala?
SW: The Gala is our final fundraiser in 2016, capping our year-long anniversary celebration, but we’re looking forward to next year’s benefits, including our annual ladies’ luncheon, our golf tournament, A Hamptons Happening and the 20th anniversary Collaborating For A Cure gala. We never tire of raising funds for cancer research.
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
SW: I enjoy relaxing activities such as gardening, golf, reading a good book and spending time with my family.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
SW: My favorites are Babbo and Bouley.
Finally, Dr. Waxman, any last words for the kids?
SW: Lead with your passion and never let fear hold you back.