Stopping Cancer Early – The Best Possible Investment



Canary Foundation Awards Gift to Draper to Improve Cancer Detection, Hasten Treatment

November 21, 2016

Draper offers world-class engineering solutions to philanthropic community

Cancer kills more than 595,000 Americans annually. The Canary Foundation recently presented a gift to Draper to apply its expertise in computer vision techniques to address fundamental limitations of today’s cancer detection tools.

Advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans have helped clinicians identify cancer faster than ever before. However, these tools often require optimal conditions without which cancer tissue can be missed.

“The Canary gift funds a two-year exploration of combining Draper’s expertise in the miniaturization of systems that blend optical sensing and spatial reasoning with vision-based navigation and satellite image enhancement, and applying them to medical imaging,” explained Andrew Berlin, distinguished member of the technical staff at Draper.

If successful, Berlin believes advances in computer vision techniques could help break through the noise created by less than optimal imaging conditions — confounding signals.

“Confounding signals are those that introduce features that are difficult to see through,” explained Berlin. “For example, an imager may be able to detect a signal from a cancer cell, but a lot of times that signal is confounded by signals from other parts of the body, such as bones. The signals are mixed together within a single pixel. Our goal is to use computer vision to tease apart these different features, figuring out for each point in an image, how much of the signal is due to a feature of interest, such as a cancer cell, and how much is due to other sources.”

About Draper

As an independent not-for-profit engineering research and development company, Draper focuses on the design, development and deployment of advanced technological solutions for the world’s most challenging and important problems. It provides engineering solutions directly to government, industry, and academia; work on teams as prime contractor or subcontractor; and participate as a collaborator in consortia. Draper provides unbiased assessments of technology or systems designed or recommended by other organizations — custom designed, as well as commercial-off-the-shelf.


San Jose Earthquakes and Avaya Partner Up to Support Canary

August 25, 2016

This moIMG_1081nth, employees from the Canary Foundation, Avaya, and the San Jose Earthquakes all came together to work on painting and decorating a fun and colorful playhouse!

IMG_1001The awesome finished product will be raffled off at upcoming San Jose Earthquakes home games in the Avaya Stadium. Raffle tickets can be purchased from the Canary Center booth before and during the games, which are on 8/24, 9/3, 9/10, 9/24, and 10/1.  At the Oct. 1 game, the lucky winner will be announced!  All proceeds from the raffle will go towards the Canary Challenge and, in turn, the Canary Foundation and its early cancer detection research and development.



Whole Foods Market Chooses Canary Foundation

July 6, 2016

This quarter, the Whole Foods Market in Palo Alto has selected the Canary Foundation as its recipient for the Nickels for Nonprofits program. When a Whole Foods customer brings their own reusable bags to the cash register, they receive a 5-cent credit. This philanthropic program, cleverly created by Whole image001Foods Market, gives customers the choice to either take his/her 5-cent credit or to donate tothe benefiting charity of the quarter. The Whole Foods Market, found at 774
Emerson Street in Palo Alto, has decided to take a stand for early cancer detection research and to serve the scientific community devoted to the cause. Canary Foundation staff will be going to the store to represent the Foundation and our purpose. The Canary Foundation will be the beneficiary of this program for the rest of the third quarter, ending Sept. 25.

Cycling for Canary – one rider’s drive

June 13, 2016

Nitish Amin is a 3-time Canary Challenge participant and is currently gearing up for his fourth Challenge, riding with team Cisco. In this guest blog he reflects on his love of biking and passion for supporting cancer early detection.

Growing up in India, I biked everywhere, every day, as a child.

I grew up, as we all do, moved to the United States and set biking aside. However, three years ago, I started biking again.

Nitish3-768x457The first time I got on my Cannonade (that’s a really great bike, if you don’t know) something just felt right. I have that feeling when I get on the saddle every Sunday morning.

I see more when I’m on my bike than when I’m in a car. I usually take the roads and routes that I haven’t explored. It is an amazing hobby that allows me to slow down, even when I’m going 20+ miles per hour. I stop to talk to people. For the next few hours that I’m on my bike, it’s just me, nature, and my fellow biking enthusiasts. I am always amazed at how new many friends I make see when I’m riding. These friends I made, we call ourselves, “CRANK OF DAWN” because we like to ride early.

It’s the same during my 8+ years at Cisco, where I get to see how many great people I work with. I am a Software Technology Manager and while we’re all moving fast to innovate and to change the world, when we take a moment to slow down, enjoy what we do, we get to see a little more, take a few unexplored paths, and just talk to each other. We also have time to give back together.

I learned about the Canary Foundation through Cisco’s volunteer program. It is the non-profit organization dedicated solely to the funding, discovery and development of tests for early cancer detection. This photo of me is during a 50-mile ride for the Canary Challenge. I like that Cisco encourages us to give back in ways that are personal to us, and in our local communities.

My father started one of the first early cancer detection centers back in the 1970s in Gujarat, India. When I ride for Canary, I feel that sense of connection between where I am now, at Cisco, and where I came from, all while contributing to a worthy cause.

Canary Summit Brings Early Cancer Detection Researchers Together

May 10, 2016

mayerPhoto_212More than 100 members of Stanford University’s scientific community met Tuesday, May 4 at the University Club in Palo Alto. Although their backgrounds were different, they had one major thing in common: cancer early detection. The event – the first ever Canary Summit – allowed researchers to share their work in that field, which ranged from innovative early detection using molecular imaging and cancer biomarkers, to the development of new technologies and medical devices for detecting cancer in its most early stages.


All those present were faculty and associates of the Canary Center at Stanford, a world-class facility dedicated to cancer early detection research programs. The Canary Foundation was instrumental in establishing the center and continues to fund it significantly.

At the Summit, the Canary Foundation awarded a $50,000 seed grant and committed to awarding $200,000 more in seed grants for attendees of the event to fund their research.


Scientists were encouraged to create posters that illustrated the focus and findings of their early detection research, and attendees voted on the best posters.

Top poster winners were:

  • First Place: Intravascular magnetic enrichment of circulating tumor cells. Jessie Ge (presenting author). Authors: Tianjia J. Ge, Amin Aalipour, Ophir Vermesh and Sanjiv S. Gambhir.

  • Second Place: NFIB is a novel metastasis-specific biomarker of small cell lung cancer. Jessika Baral (presenting author). Authors: Jessika Baral, Dian Yang and Julien Sage.

  • Third Place: Label-free Magnetophoretic Isolation of Circulating Tumor Cells and Clusters from Blood. Jaeyoung Yang (presenting author). Authors: Jaeyoung Yang, N. Gozde Durmus, Hojae Lee, Baris D. Ercal, Ozlem Ercal, Huiping Zhang, Christian Hoerner, Alice C. Fan, Juergen K. Willmann, Ronald W. Davis, Lars Steinmetz and Utkan Demirci.

For more photos of the Canary Summit, visit our album on Facebook.

Longtime Canary Supporters Will Match Your Gift for Silicon Valley Gives May 3

April 28, 2016

Evan and Cindy Goldberg of Woodside, CA will match your gift to fund early cancer detection research up to $100,000 for Silicon Valley Gives on May 3. If you make a donation to Canary Foundation during this 24-hour online fundraising event, it will be matched by the Goldbergs’ generous donation.

To contribute, visit Canary Foundation’s Silicon Valley Gives fundraising page anytime on Tuesday, May 3.


Evan and Cindy Goldberg

Why the Goldbergs support early detection research 

There’s no debate that early cancer detection saves lives. No one knows this better than the Goldbergs.

The couple has several family members who have had cancer, but thanks in large part to early diagnosis, all of them survived.

“They were helped by early detection, and it was a major factor in being cured. Even earlier detection may have made their treatments less invasive,” Cindy says.

Longtime supporters of Canary Foundation, the Goldbergs believe that finding cancer earlier, with more accurate testing methods, is the first line of defense, and that reliable earlier detection will make new cancer therapies more effective.

“We are inspired by the incredible commitment of Don Listwin, Canary’s founder, and Dr. Sanjiv Gambhir, chair of Radiology at Stanford University and director of the Canary Center at Stanford,” shares Evan. “Their ideas are life-saving, cost-effective and long overdue.”

Join Evan and Cindy in helping Canary Foundation find cancer early. It’s about time.

Biden Visits Canary Center of Excellence on Cancer Listening Tour

April 6, 2016

The vice president’s Cancer Moonshot initiative met with researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center to talk about cures for cancer.

Monday, March 21, 2016. Vice President Joe Biden talking with Dr. Joshua Veatch during his walking tour of Stan Riddell’s lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Senator Patty Murray is to the right and Dr. Phil Greenberg is in the rear.

Vice President Joe Biden talks with Dr. Joshua Veatch during a walking tour at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a Canary Center of Excellence. (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times)

Back in January at the president’s State of the Union address, there was one announcement that stuck out for many of us. President Obama announced he was putting Vice President Joe Biden in charge of what is now called the Cancer Moonshot Task Force. It got its name because its mission – to eliminate cancer as we know it – is about as ambitious as putting a man on the moon used to be.

A significant early development occurred last month when Biden visited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (the ‘Hutch’) in Seattle, one of the Canary Foundation’s Centers for Excellence, as part of a listening tour. Biden’s visit to the Hutch included a panel discussion with area researchers, care providers, policymakers and patients, as well as Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland.

The Canary Foundation’s ties to the Hutch extend back to 2001 when Canary Founder Don Listwin discovered the work of epidemiologist Dr. Nicole Urban and a new field called biomarkers. He ended up funding some of her work and then later met Nobel Laureate Dr. Lee Hartwell, director of the center. Don’s investment helped establish the core of a biomarker discovery and analysis program at the HUTCH, and it remains one of Canary’s ‘Centers of Excellence’.

Today, the Canary Research Teams at the Hutch collaborate closely with faculty at the Canary Center for Early Cancer Detection at Stanford University to achieve the same goal: saving lives by developing reliable methods for early cancer detection.

Learn more about the Canary Foundation’s research centers, and check out this video about Biden’s visit to the Hutch below. (Video by Bo Jungmayer & Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service)

What does #GIVINGTUESDAY mean to Canary?

November 13, 2015


Black Friday. Cyber Monday. What do these shopping events have to do with giving thanks?

Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a time for reflection; a time to refocus on what it means to be thankful. #GivingTuesday was the answer to the question: How do we get back to the root of what it means to give thanks.

Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday is a collaborative, social media inspired day of giving, fueled by those who want to make a difference. Nonprofits have the opportunity to tap into a network of social activists and promote a variety of local and national causes.

So where does the Canary Foundation factor in?

For us, #GivingTuesday is more than just giving back. #GivingTuesday is a time for us to reflect and remember those who have struggled with cancer. #GivingTuesday is an opportunity to thank our scientists who constantly push themselves to find innovative methods of detecting cancer at its earliest stage. #GivingTuesday is a moment to pause and think about all the work that the Canary Foundation has been able to achieve over the past 10 years and to be thankful that we have the ability to continue achieving the improbable.

On this #GivingTuesday, we thank you for your belief in our mission and ask that keep us in mind as you make your year-end decisions about giving.

Over $1 Million and Still Going Strong – Canary Challenge 2015

October 22, 2015

cc15-1The 5th annual Canary Challenge cycling fundraiser was held on September 26th, 2015 out of HP Headquarters in Palo Alto. As of mid-October, participants in the Canary Challenge have raised $1,155,317 towards early cancer detection research. 100% of the proceeds from the cycling fundraiser will go towards the Canary Foundation and the research that it funds.

Since it’s inaugural year in 2011, the Canary Challenge has seen tremendous growth in the number of participants, teams, and fundraising. In 2015, over 1,000 participants, 101 teams, and almost 200 volunteers came together to raise over $1 million for early cancer detection research. With each individual rider raising an average of over $1,000, more than double the $400 participation minimum, the passion that participants have for finding cancer at its earliest, must curable stage, is truly inspiring.

“The Canary Challenge is a great event because it offers the best cycling on the Peninsula with rest stops offering gourmet food and drinks, and challenging to easy routes for our incredible cyclists,” says founder Don Listwin, who rode the new Founder’s 50 Mile Route. “For our 10th anniversary year, we increased our goals and our riders passionately strove to achieve and have fun. ”

cc15-2Special thanks and recognition to the businesses and individuals who donated their time and goods to making the post-ride Village a success! Pro riders included Eamon Lucas, Freddie Rodriquez, and Liza Rachetto. Corporate Team Sponsorships this year included, Agilent Technology, Avaya, Netsuite, VMware, SAP and Juniper Networks.

A last and final thank you to the Menlo Bike Club, who fearlessly led training rides to prepare riders of all levels for the Canary Challenge routes and provided countless opportunities to learn from experienced riders such as Menlo Bike Club Leader Hani Juha.

cc15-3Individual Top Fundraisers:

Special recognition for Maren Deem – a 12-year old cycling-enthusiast, whose mother is currently battling breast cancer, single-handedly raised $33K for early cancer detection.

Maren Deem $33,502.00
Pat Gelsinger $32,651.00
Julie Kaufman $12,079.00
Steve Ciesinski $11,955.00
Larry Fox $11,211.00
Frederick Chin $11,075.00
Andrew Valentine $10,569.00
Kevin Talbot $9,400.00
LeTessa Davis $9,390.00
Chip Krauskopf $8,565.00

Top Teams:

Canary Peeps $80,200.00
Dog Pack $65,165.00
VMware & Partners $64,594
Team “I Got This” $61,409.00
Milan’s Team $45,857.00
Agilent Technologies $38,621.00
XRay Ninjas $34,712.00
RALLY $34,169.00
Team NetSuite $27,116.00
Team Aditazz $26,355.00

Volunteering as a Life Choice

October 12, 2015

At the Canary Foundation, we believe that there is something intrinsically rewarding in devoting time to a cause that is bigger than one individual person. That is why it is an honor to call this kind of work a living, and a privilege to work alongside some of the brightest minds in science and non-profit work. Time and time again we see this same passion from the people who make the Canary Challenge possible: our volunteers. Each year we see an average of 200 volunteers arrive at the Canary Challenge Bike Ride, ready to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty for a great cause. For some, this will be their first year volunteering. For others, volunteering runs in their blood.

Meet Nels “Pete” Pearson. A former director with the Santa Clara County Peace Officers Association, Pete has always been passionate about giving back to his community. Prior to his time in Santa Clara, Pete volunteered throughout the county of Santa Cruz working with various non-profits in his community. Pete’s commitment to giving back is something he claims is in his DNA, but like many things we can blame genetics for, cancer was also lurking in Pete’s family history.

Pete’s father passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 54, leaving a 15 year-old Pete with a jumble of questions. Further down the road, Pete’s mother would also succumb to the disease at the age of 84. So when Pete himself was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer at the age of 53, it was his family history with cancer that was predominantly on his mind. For a person who had dedicated much of his time making sure others were safe and cared for, Pete’s diagnosis left him feeling vulnerable and alone.

Surgery and chemotherapy quickly followed upon Pete’s diagnosis to combat the cells that were attacking his body. At first, Pete’s remission had an optimistic outlook, but to Pete’s dismay, the cancer kept creeping back. Pete chose to undergo chemotherapy again for eight months to try and re-attack the cancer, which sparked a reaction causing random episodes of fainting. It was like clockwork, Pete recalls. Chemo finished by Wednesday, fainting and couch-ridden by Friday.

A month after his last chemo treatment when he and his wife were on a plane headed towards Cancun, Mexico, Pete reached a turning point. Instead of landing in Cancun, they had landed in Lubbock, Texas; Pete had fainted mid flight causing an emergency landing halfway to Cancun. At that point, Pete made a choice to undergo radiation treatments. To Pete’s relief, treatment continued without a single side affect and he returned his attention to giving back. Naturally, Pete sought out a cancer foundation to volunteer for where he believed he could make the biggest impact, disrupting and changing the fate of today’s cancer statistics. What he found was the Canary Foundation.

It’s people like Pete who embody the spirit of the Canary Foundation. Pete is a leader among our group of passionate volunteers who dedicate their time and considerable talents to making the Canary Challenge and ultimately the Canary Foundation a change agent in the scientific community.

« Older Entries