15th annual International Myeloma Foundation gala raises over $675K

Fundraiser hosted by actor Ray Romano will benefit research, education efforts

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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At its 15th annual gala, held in New York City this April, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) raised more than $675,000 — monies the nonprofit says will be used to advance research into myeloma and to support educational efforts.

“The gala was a testament to the strong partnerships, collaborative mindset and spirit, and innovative thinking that the IMF has established with the myeloma community. We need philanthropy to help us be big and bold with research and to bring moonshot ideas to life,” Sylvia Dsouza, vice president of development at the IMF, who headed the organization of this year’s gala, said in a foundation press release.

“Science and research require money and without funding, finding a cure for myeloma will remain elusive,” Dsouza said, adding that “the gala’s success — raising over $675,000 — brought us closer to our goals, and we are excited to continue to advance …  in our mission!”

In his opening remarks at the event, held at the Edison Ballroom, Yelak Biru — IMF’s president and CEO, and himself a 28-year myeloma survivor — said the gala “isn’t just a fundraiser.” Instead, he called the event “a celebration of our collective will.”

“We are a tapestry woven from patients, caregivers, researchers, doctors, supporters, and industry partners – all united by the same unwavering purpose – to conquer myeloma,” Biru said.

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Organizers call International Myeloma Foundation gala ‘a huge success’

This year’s gala was hosted by Ray Romano, an actor and comedian best known for starring in the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.” It also featured appearances by actor Tony Danza, comedian and singer Robert Klein, actress and film producer Patricia Heaton, and actress and model Alex Meneses.

Some of the money raised from the event will support the Peter Boyle Research Fund, a program to advance myeloma research that was founded in 2007 in honor of actor Peter Boyle, who was part of the cast of the sitcom and who lost his life to myeloma.

Funds from the gala also will be used to support educational initiatives, as well as an international research program called the Black Swan Research Initiative. According to the IMF, the goal of this initiative is to find a definitive cure for myeloma — moving from remission, in which the disease is merely in an inactive state, to a true cure where the blood cancer is gone for good.

The IMF 15th Annual Gala was a huge success — celebrating the remarkable progress we have made and highlighting our continued commitment to research and to patients worldwide.

“We have made major advances in myeloma through close collaborations between researchers, pharmaceutical companies, patients, and non-profit foundations,” said S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, IMF’s board chair.

“The IMF 15th Annual Gala was a huge success — celebrating the remarkable progress we have made and highlighting our continued commitment to research and to patients worldwide,” Rajkumar said.

Several companies were honored at the gala for contributions to myeloma research. The IMF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, given to recognize efforts to address health disparities for people with myeloma, was awarded to Johnson & Johnson.

In accepting the award, Tyrone Brewer, president of U.S. hematology at Johnson & Johnson, said the company is “committed to creating a world where your identity is not a determinant of your access to care, the quality of your care, or your health outcomes.”

“The work we do at Johnson & Johnson to advocate for diversity and justice, through Our Race to Health Equity initiatives, is so important,” Brewer said.

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IMF collaborator LatentView named Partner of the Year

The Partner of the Year Award, which aims to recognize a company that’s helping people with myeloma live their fullest life possible, was granted to Latentview Analytics, which has U.S. offices in California, Washington, and New Jersey.

The IMF and Latentview have been collaborating since 2022 to streamline the process from diagnosing myeloma to identifying the appropriate type of treatment(s) so that therapy can be started as soon as possible, according to the nonporofit.

Rajan Sethuraman, LatentView’s CEO, thanked the International Myeloma Foundation for recognizing those efforts.

“Through this collaboration, we have reduced … the time between diagnosis and choosing a treatment plan, significantly improving outcomes and lives,” Sethuraman said in a separate company press release.

Also at the fundraising event, the IMF’s Innovation Award — which celebrates companies advancing new myeloma treatments and fostering patient-centered medicine — was given to Bristol Myers Squibb and 2seventy bio for their work in developing Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel).

Abecma is a CAR T-cell therapy that works by arming a patient’s immune T-cells to attack a protein called BCMA that’s highly produced by myeloma cells. Regulatory authorities in the U.S., European Union, and other countries recently expanded Abecma’s approval to people with hard-to-treat myeloma who’ve received two prior lines of treatment.

Carvykti (ciltacabtagene autoleucel), a BCMA-targeting CAR T-cell therapy developed by Janssen, now Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine, and Legend Biotech, recently received expanded approval in the U.S. as a second-line treatment for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. A similar regulatory decision soon followed in the EU.

With those expansions, Carvykti is now indicated for use in patients who’ve had at least one prior line of treatment, including an immunomodulatory agent and a proteasome inhibitor, and whose disease is resistant to Revlimid (lenalidomide).