The History of CanceRx
In the early 1990s, Clifford Gibbons started and secured substantial federal funding to establish the Advanced Cancer Detection Center (ACDC) at Moffitt Comprehensive Cancer Center. This was used to identify patients with a genetic and family predisposition for numerous cancers. He structured a joint venture between Moffitt and G.E. Medical to develop the first digital mammography screening machine by securing a three-year multi-million dollar cooperative agreement funded by the United States Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC).
Additional R&D funding further refined breast cancer screening with 3D digital tomosynthesis and integrated ultrasound to vastly improve contrast-enhanced mammography and carcinogenic tumor density. This early critical funding led to breakthrough molecular imaging technologies for early cancer detection and treatment management.
Contemporaneous to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) publication of the first stage human genome sequencing in the early 2000s, Mr. Gibbons formed the National Functional Genomics Center (NFGC), an elite consortium of leading NCI Comprehensive Cancer Centers across the county. They collaborated to discover molecular signatures for cancers and to accelerate the discovery of new, more targeted personalized cancer therapeutics. From 2002 to 2015, Mr. Gibbons crafted Federal appropriations strategies that delivered over $550m in clinical cancer funding to NFGC partners.
The NFGC needed a steady supply of high-quality clinical cancer tissue samples to validate a molecular signature. Mr. Gibbons developed the initial funding to harvest and catalog tens of thousands of cancer tumor tissue on a standardized Affymetrix GeneChip microarray platform to allow uniform high-throughput genotyping for the five leading cancers. He forged a collaboration between his clients, Merck & Co. and Moffitt, to utilize U.S. Department of Defense Medical Research Command appropriations. These critical federal funds provided the initial start-up financing to create M2Gen – an informatics solutions company that advances precision medicine by integrating and analyzing clinical and molecular data.
In pursuit of one of the most lucrative sources of federal cancer clinical research funding, Mr. Gibbons crafted and spearheaded legislation to exempt the Moffitt Cancer Center from Medicare prospective payment system (PPS) and the restrictive patient treatment reimbursement based on diagnostic-related groups (DRGs). This federal statutory PPS exemption, passed by Congress in 1997 (P.L. 105-33), allows the Moffitt Cancer Center to receive full cancer treatment cost reimbursement for patients participating in clinical trials.
Experiencing firsthand the enormous cost and hurdles of funding successful human clinical trials for new cancer drugs, Mr. Gibbons reached out to Dr. Andrew W. Lo at MIT and the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering. They worked to forge a new approach to funding the “valley-of-death” between post-pre-clinical research and FDA approval of new cancer therapeutics. Following Dr. Andrew Lo’s publishing of “Can Financial Engineering Cure Cancer”, Mr. Gibbons worked with Dr. Lo to support his efforts to develop three preeminent invitation-only working conferences at MIT in 2013, 2015, and 2019. These sessions brought together the leading scientific, financial, biotech, government, and cancer treatment stakeholders. Nobel Prize recipients shared panel discussions with credit rating agencies, investment bankers, pension and sovereign wealth fund managers, leading venture capital and private equity firms, pharmaceutical companies, NCI comprehensive cancer center directors, and university technology transfer directors. Medical research centers debated funding innovation and new business models to make cancer R&D dollars sustainable and predictable with financial leaders and business school professors.
In 2014, Mr. Gibbons formed CanceRx, LLC, obtained the CanceRx corporate trademark in 2019, formed CanceRx Foundation, Inc., and obtained the CanceRx Foundation IRS 501(c)(3) charitable tax-exempt status in October 2021.