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Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance awards prize to CSHL’s Christopher Vakoc

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Christopher Vakoc

New York City and Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance (PSSCRA) has announced that Associate Professor Christopher Vakoc, M.D., Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is among seven winners of the third annual Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research.

Vakoc, along with the other awardees, will receive $200,000 per year for up to three years to help fund his explorative and high-risk/high-reward research.

A finalist in last year’s prize, Vakoc’s research employs a novel CRISPR technique that can reveal individual protein domains that sustain cancer cells. His lab is now deploying this technology in a diverse array of human cancers to reveal therapeutic opportunities and basic mechanisms of cancer gene control.

“The entire faculty of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory joins me in congratulating Chris Vakoc on this prize,” said Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., President and CEO of CSHL. “Appropriately, this honor recognizes Chris’s superb achievements to date in cancer research. At the same time, the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance, through this award to Chris and six others of outstanding ability, is providing a model of philanthropic vision to the broad community in a time of constraint in research funding at the federal level.”

“The Pershing Square Sohn Prize Winners are among the most talented and innovative scientists in cancer research,” said Olivia Tournay Flatto, President of the Pershing Square Foundation. “Dr. Vakoc’s research uses the novel CRISPR technique in a unique way to scan fusion proteins to reveal key molecular details in leukemic patients. His research has great promise for guiding the development of next-generation cancer therapies. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s mission of funding pioneering work in cancer research closely aligns with the Pershing Square Foundation mission. We are both investing in innovative ideas advanced by exceptional leaders.”

Formed in 2013, this highly competitive initiative was created by a $25 million alliance formed by The Pershing Square Foundation and The Sohn Conference Foundation to help bridge the gap between academia and the business community. The Pershing Square Sohn Prize is awarded to scientists based in New York City, a hub for a number of leading academic institutions, research facilities, and hospitals. In order to facilitate these collaborations, each Prize winner is given a mentor in the pharmaceutical industry and the opportunity to present his or her work to scientific and business audiences. In the three years since its inception, The Alliance has already established itself as an innovator in the world of philanthropy due to its unique and exemplary methods of identifying talent and vetting potential candidates.

Additional details about the Prize winners can be found on the PSSCRA website at

Written by: Public Affairs | | 516-367-8455

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About The Pershing Square Foundation
The Pershing Square Foundation is a private family foundation, based in New York, founded in December 2006 by Karen and Bill Ackman. The Foundation has committed more than $375 million in grants and social investments to support exceptional leaders and innovative organizations that tackle important social issues and deliver scalable and sustainable impact. Bill is the CEO and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P. For more information visit:

About The Sohn Conference Foundation
The Sohn Conference Foundation is dedicated to the treatment and cure of pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases. The Foundation supports cutting-edge medical research, state-of-the-art research equipment, and innovative programs to ensure that children with cancer survive and thrive. The Foundation raises its funds through premier investment conferences and special events, including its renowned annual New York Sohn Investment Conference. More information on the Sohn Investment Conference is available at

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit