Clinical Cancer Research

Our ambition is to establish a new norm in clinical cancer research, where patients are treated as partners, from the creation of research questions to the dissemination of results.

Patient Involvement

The importance and merit of patient involvement in research are widely acknowledged. When patients are involved, everyone benefits, because it ensures clinical and medical research work is performed more effectively and advances the delivery of what patients really need. This can only be achieved based on the collaborative identification and understanding of patients’ unmet needs. Receiving patient input throughout the design, implementation, and evaluation of clinical trials helps improve the discovery, development, and evaluation of new treatments.

Funding Approach

Our funding approach is based on the following main principles :

Patient Centricity: We only support research designed according to our principles of patient involvement and bringing new ways to improve patients’ quality of life during their cancer treatment journey.

Short time frames, maximum impact: We fund interventional clinical trials that would not be funded by commercial organizations (Pharma/Biotech/Start up). Research projects should demonstrate patient impact within 3 to 5 years and start within 6 months upon official award notification.

Strategic Focus Areas: Designed together with an international expert group, our strategic focus areas form the core of our philanthropic funding approach.

Partnerships to maximize reach: We partner with other funding organizations to leverage resources and accelerate the improvement of patient treatment options and quality of life everywhere. We expect applicants to submit a co-funding plan describing their proportion secured support or a strong fundraising plan.

Applicants can contact us at to clarify any questions or doubts.

Focus Areas

Improved Patient Outcomes

This overarching Focus Area supports research advancing therapeutic approaches that produce the best possible outcome with the least toxicity possible. The focus area also includes effective interventions that support symptom management during and after treatment.

Science of Early Detection and Intervention

This Focus Area supports novel strategies for high impact clinical research in prevention, early detection, and interception of precursors or early cancer.

Advancing Cancer Research in Underserved Areas

There is a global need for quality research in underserved areas. RTFCCR is piloting a patient-centered clinical cancer research grant-making program for which we will launch a call for proposals in the second half of 2023.

Funding Opportunities

Open Call

We accept Letters of Intent (LOIs) all year round with cutoff deadlines for internal assessment three times per year. Once you have submitted your LOI, you will receive further information regarding timing and next steps.

Pre-application Grants

Pre-application grants provide gap funding to support patient experts’ helping to develop grant applications/ protocols.

Chronic Cancer Pain Research

This Request for Proposals focuses on interventions for the prevention and/or treatment of cancer-related chronic pain.

Patient Art Exhibition

What does ‘quality of life’ mean to you?

The Rising Tide Foundation has launched an international Patient Arts for Health – Global Exhibition to collect and curate art offering new insights on what quality of life means to people with cancer and their families through their art.


Clinical Cancer Research Team

Clinical Cancer Research Board of Directors

Clinical Cancer Research Advisory Board

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Alexandre Costa Alencar

Head of Cancer Research Programs

As Head of Cancer Research Programs, Alexandre advises the Board of Directors in steering the Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research funding areas. Together with his team, he manages the portfolio of active grants, and the design and implementation of new programs and partnerships. Alexandre is passionate about patient engagement and impact measurement initiatives.

Paola Atzei

Senior Scientific Program Manager

As Senior Scientific Program Manager, Paola is responsible for developing the focus area of therapy optimization. She focuses on the areas of de-escalation and repurposing of drugs in pediatric and geriatric oncology to support better patient outcomes with minimal toxicity. Paola holds a Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD in neuroimmunology and a master’s degree in pharmaceutical biotechnology. Additionally, she completed a diploma in project management. In her free time, Paola likes to travel and spend time outdoors with her two kids and husband.

Zoraide Granchi

Senior Scientific Program Manager

As Senior Scientific Program Manager, Zoraide drives the implementation of the science of early detection and intervention focus area. Zoraide holds a master’s in biotechnologies and a PhD in Stem Cell Biology. She works closely with her colleagues and the Head of Cancer Research Programs in organizing the selection process for new applications, managing the active grants portfolio and supporting the many patient involvement initiatives of RTFCCR. Zoraide loves dancing, baking and having fun with her 3 kids and partner.

Karolina Werynska

Scientific Program Manager

As Scientific Program Manager, Karolina drives the active grant portfolio of clinical cancer research, supports development of new focus areas, and helps with many patient involvement initiatives of RTFCCR.  Karolina holds a PhD in drug discovery and a master’s degree in biomedicine. After completing her PhD, she worked in Global Medical Affairs in a pharmaceutical company in Basel. In her free time, Karolina likes to read indiscriminately all genres, Alpine hiking, and enjoy good food.

Shawn Stephenson

Foundation Board Chairman

Shawn is creator and chairman of the board for Rising Tide Foundation and Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research. Together with his boards, he provides strategic guidance for the senior management team of both our foundations and our subsidiaries. A graduate of Wabash College, and a 32nd degree Master Mason, Shawn is also the chairman of several investment committees.

Beat Thürlimann

Foundation Board Deputy Chairman

As deputy board chairman, Beat utilizes his wealth of knowledge in foundation laws. He has served as Head Physician of the breast cancer department at the St. Gallen Cantonal Hospital since 2008 and is passionately committed to advancing cancer research.

Hermann Schulin

Foundation Board Member

Hermann is a lawyer by profession, and an expert in both Swiss and German law. He also has expertise in the general parts of Swiss Code of Obligations, and in particular, the law of contract and unjustified enrichment. During his illustrious career, he served as a junior lawyer and assessor for the Federal State of Hessen, held positions at the ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, and worked as an associate professor at the Universities of St. Gallen and Bern.

Wendy Selig

Foundation Board Member

Wendy is an independent consultant providing strategic counsel to dozens of patient advocacy organizations and life-science companies. She has served as President and CEO of the innovative Melanoma Research Alliance, and as a senior executive for the American Cancer Society (ACSCAN). She brings an extensive network of deep contacts, and more than 30 years of experience in defining and implementing collaborative strategies, working at the top levels of government and within the leadership of the nonprofit health sector.


Steven Rosen

Foundation Board Member

Steven currently serves as the Provost and Chief Scientific Officer; Director at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and Beckman Research Institute; and Professor of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. He completed his medical degree at the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois. Throughout the years he has held various positions in cancer treatment and research and co-authored more than 450 publications.

Hubert Bertsch

Foundation Board Member

Hubert is an Austrian entrepreneur and international businessman. He is the owner and CEO of Bertsch Holding GmbH founded in 1925 with several companies in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). When Hubert took over the family business, he reorganized the companies allowing each division to focus on their core competencies and creating a strong solid foundation for expansion. He also enlarged the companies’ sphere of activities and continues to create relations with multiple foreign countries and businesses.

Alexandros Papachristofilou

Advisory Board Member

Alexandros is Senior Physician of Radiation Oncology at Basel University Hospital. He studied medicine at the Technical University of Munich and Ludwig-Maximilians University. Alexandros is an active clinical researcher and a former Research Fellow at Paul Scherrer Proton Therapy Institute (PSI).

William Dale

Advisory Board Member

William Dale, M.D., Ph.D., is the vice chair for Academic Affairs for the Department of Supportive Care Medicine and the director of Center for Cancer and Aging in the National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center at City of Hope.

Dr. Dale completed his medical and graduate school training at the University of Chicago and did his residency in internal medicine and fellowship training in geriatrics at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a geriatrician and palliative medicine physician with a doctorate in health policy. Dr. Dale is the founder and director of the Specialized Oncology Care and Research in Elders (SOCARE). He has over 250 publications on medicinal decision-making, behavioral economics, quality of life and cancer care for older adults.

Annie Ellis

Advisory Board Member

Annie contributes patient and caregiver perspectives during grant selection and strategic decisions for clinical cancer research activities and champions meaningful patient engagement and inclusion of patient partners in research projects. Annie is a survivor of breast cancer and recurrent ovarian cancer as well as a caregiver. She provides peer support through SHARE Cancer Support and the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance’s (OCRA) Woman to Woman program.

Annie serves as research advocate in several capacities with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), including Chair of the Council of Research Advocates (NCRA), past Co-Chair of the Patient Advocate Steering Committee and a member of the Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee. Annie also serves with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ASCO, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, the International Gynecologic Cancer Society and OCRA to provide the patient perspective during meetings, grant review, and/or development of guidelines.